The Oakland Raiders are prepared to shock the world on NFL trade deadline Tuesday. Jay Glazer of FoxSports is reporting Oakland will send a 2012 first-round pick and a conditional 2013 selection to the Cincinnati Bengals for quarterback Carson Palmer.
ESPN's Adam Schefter is now reporting that the deal is done. The Bengals will receive a 2012 first round pick and a conditional 2013 first-rounder.
What will the Raiders get in return for their investment? Let's breakdown the game of Carson Palmer to see if the Raiders will get a Pro Bowl quarterback or an injured veteran.
Scouting Carson Palmer
Palmer tore his knee up during the 2005 season, and as of late hasn't quite been the Pro Bowl caliber quarterback we saw pre-injury. Having said that, Palmer was better than many in the media would let you believe over the last two seasons.
We can look at Palmer's 2009 and 2010 seasons as an indicator of what the Raiders can expect to see from him this season. At 31-years-old Palmer has gas left in the tank, especially after taking off the summer and first six weeks of the 2011 season. The major questions will be surrounding his arm strength, accuracy, how well he can move in the pocket and how fast he can learn the Raiders system.
A partially torn ligament and tendon in Palmer's throwing elbow caused him to miss 12 games in 2008, and since that time many have questioned Palmer's arm strength and velocity.
Here we see a play from Palmer's 2010 season that results in an interception. Palmer fails to follow through on the pass, which causes a decrease in velocity and ball speed. Troy Polamalu is able to jump in front of the route for an easy interception.
Now look at this video. Palmer is throwing the same route, a short comeback, but he puts enough velocity on the ball to thread it between the defenders for a touchdown. This is the type of arm strength the Raiders hope they will get from Palmer.
Palmer is one more year removed from surgery and has had all summer to rest his arm. I'm willing to bet on a healthy Palmer taking the field this fall for Oakland.
Carson Palmer has never been known for his accuracy, but he's also never played in an offensive system that promotes high-accuracy throws. The Bengals loved to push the ball deep and that's similar to what Palmer will see in Oakland.
The Raider offense is built around the running game of Darren McFadden, but they will ask Palmer to make plays with his arm, especially throwing outside to Jacoby Ford, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Kevin Boss. Palmer is a career 62.9 percent passer, which would put him in the top 10 quarterbacks this season. The key will be velocity. If Palmer floats passes, like he did too often in 2010, the Raider offense will struggle.
One thing that must be noted is that the past several seasons in Cincinnati, Palmer was playing with receivers who are notorious for not fighting to get the ball. Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh aren't exactly the most technically sound receivers in the game. Palmer will benefit from younger, hungrier receivers who are willing to attack the ball.
This video shows the good and bad from Palmer in a 2007 game. On the first throw he stands tall in the pocket and checks down to a back streaking out of the backfield for a big gain. The second throw, Palmer rushed his progressions and then overthrew his receiver. This is the issue with Palmer. One play he's great, the next his mechanics seem to break down. This level of inconsistency became maddening for the Bengals as Palmer struggled to please receivers Chad Ochocinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Palmer's attempts to force the ball downfield resulted in too many mistakes and too many back-breaking interceptions.
During the 2010 season, Palmer took 620 drop backs into the pocket—he ran just nine times. This is not a mobile quarterback, especially after knee surgery in 2005. Where Palmer does excel is at seeing the blitz and making adjustments.
Here we see a great example of Palmer in the pocket. Since injuring his knee, Palmer has been gun-shy at times to step up in the pocket. Against a three-man front with one outside blitzer, Palmer folds under pressure. The offensive line play wasn't great, but Palmer had time to either throw the ball to a receiver, or throw it away. Instead he took a sack.
With left tackle Jared Veldheer playing quality football, Palmer has a reliable blindside protector he can trust. With more time in the pocket we will see a Carson Palmer closer to the one who made the Pro Bowl in 2005 and 2006.
With any new quarterback you have to worry about holding the ball too long as he tries to read the defense instead of reacting based on instinct in an offense he knows well. Palmer may be in football shape, but learning the Raiders' system will be the priority over the next two weeks.
One great note is that Palmer played under Raiders' head coach Hue Jackson from 2004-2006, Palmer's best years in Cincinnati. Jackson was the wide receivers coach and very much instrumental in the direction of the offense. Much of what the Raiders like to do on offense comes from Jackson's playbook, so there should not be much of a learning curve for Palmer. He'll have until November 6 to learn the system, as the Raiders have a bye next week.
The mental aspect of the game was never an issue for Palmer. He's a bright quarterback who is familiar with the Raider offense already. If there is one area I am not worried about, it is Palmer's ability to learn the offense in time for his first game.
The value of this trade will be questioned repeatedly over the course of the season. Oakland gave up a 2012 first-rounder and a conditional 2013 first-round pick—a lot for a quarterback who has struggled over the last two seasons. What this does give the 4-2 Raiders is a chance to make the playoffs. Palmer is experienced in their system, has played in the playoffs before and knows how to win ball games. If they can get total commitment from him, the playoffs are not out of the question.
The Raiders will have to address Palmer's contract. The 31-year-old quarterback is on the books for $11.5 million this season, and more in the future.
Based on his previous seasons in the NFL, it is safe to say that Palmer is a big upgrade over Jason Campbell and will give Oakland a legitimate chance to win the AFC West and make a playoff run. Did the Raiders overpay for Palmer? Absolutely. But Oakland did something no other team in the NFL would do—they bet on their team and made a move to give the offense a jolt for the playoffs. The Raiders see blood in the water in the AFC West and they are attacking. Oakland was average at quarterback before today, now they have a smart, veteran quarterback who will take them to the top of the West.