Palmer, last year's starter, is unlikely to remain with the Raiders much longer. The Raiders asked him to cut $3 million from the $13 million the team is set to owe him in 2013, but he balked at the offer. According to Yahoo, Palmer would rather be a backup on a winning team than start for the Raiders:
The quarterback's decision, according to three sources familiar with Palmer's mindset, is based on a sense that Oakland's prospects for success in 2013 are so bleak that money is no longer the predominant factor in his thought process.
We've been down this road with Palmer before.
To counter this, the team has been exploring options to replace Palmer. According to Adam Caplan, Oakland is exploring the idea of signing free agent Kevin Kolb, who was recently released by the Arizona Cardinals as the team couldn't afford his massive salary:
In addition to having interest in Seahawks QB Matt Flynn, the Raiders have discussed the possibility of signing QB Kevin Kolb.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) March 29, 2013
Outside of Kolb, the main move the team seems to be intent on making is trading for Matt Flynn. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Raiders are close to sealing a deal that would send a 2013 and 2014 draft selection to Seattle in exchange for Flynn:
I'm hearing, unless something crazy happens, the Flynn-to-Raiders trade won't be officially consummated today. But 2 sides are nearly there— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 29, 2013
The problem for Oakland is that one of these deals is much, much better than the other. Which deal the team chooses to roll with will say a lot about the new management in place as the rebuilding efforts continue.
Oakland cannot afford to trade for Flynn, especially with a quarterback like Kolb available on the market.
Flynn is going to reportedly cost the team a pick this year and in the 2014 draft. Considering the Raiders have one of the worst rosters in the NFL and have just three picks in the top 170 selections of this year's draft, trading one away in exchange for Flynn makes absolutely no sense at all.
There's no indication the Raiders believe Flynn can be the starting quarterback next year anyway. In fact, the snafu in the deal seems to be that the Raiders think the exact opposite (per NFL.com):
Sources familiar with Flynn's thinking told Rapoport that the quarterback would be resistant to changing the terms of his contract. That indicates the Raiders aren't necessarily happy with paying Flynn $5.25 million in 2013 and $6.25 million in 2014. This looks like the holdup.
It's telling that Oakland could be looking to change Flynn's contract.
The fact that the Raiders want Flynn to reduce his contract means the team believes he can potentially be a starter but isn't willing to take the financial risk if he ends up as just a backup.
So why take the risk with precious draft picks, especially with Kolb out there?
There's no reason at all. Kolb isn't the greatest quarterback in the world by any means, but if you're looking for a cheap backup who may or may not win the starting gig next season, you aren't going to do much better for cheaper.
Kolb ranked as the No. 20 overall quarterback in the NFL last season according to ProFootballFocus (subscription required), which is a bit misleading because he only appeared in six games.
In those six games, Kolb threw for 1,169 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions, giving him an 86.1 rating. He's never thrown for more than 2,000 yards in his career or broken the 10-touchdown barrier, but he's also never started more than nine games in a season thanks to a mixture of injury and being a backup.
There is an outside chance the Raiders are simply using Kolb as leverage to get Flynn to restructure his contract. It's a decent idea in principle, because there is an unknown element about Flynn's potential as a starter, while Kolb is somewhat of a known commodity under center.
However, the cost in terms of draft picks is simply too steep, regardless of round. As a team in rebuilding mode, each draft pick is critical to that process. Wasting even a seventh-rounder is a stupid idea at this point with so many holes littering the roster.
Oakland needs to rethink this deal before making it official. There's comparable talent out there on the market, such as Kolb, who comes at a financial price but won't cost any draft picks.
If the Raiders give up draft selections to trade for Flynn rather than signing Kolb for cheap, it's yet another step in the wrong direction for the franchise.
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