Conventional wisdom says, "ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?" Oakland gave up a first-round pick in 2012 and a second-round pick that can become a first-rounder if the Raiders win a playoff game this year. Meanwhile, Mike Brown is probably sitting in his office, grinning like the Cheshire Cat, oh-so pleased with himself and the outcome of his most recent thievery.
The truth is that this is the result of a number of different circumstances surrounding the NFL trading deadline. In order to understand it, we must examine the factors that influenced the decision-making on both sides of the trade.
First off, Brown was content to let Carson Palmer rot in retirement after the franchise quarterback opted to retire rather than play for the Bengals this year after demanding a trade.
The Bengals' GM had been adamant about not giving into Palmer's demands and it seemed, even up until yesterday that Palmer was going to spend the 2011 season in his living room. This is likely because, even though there had been offers, no team had even come close to offering what Oakland eventually put on the table. Peter King of SI.com wrote, "The level of compensation is stunning. I'd heard Marvin Lewis would have been thrilled to get a second-round pick for Palmer, both as fair compensation and to get the Palmer distraction off the franchise's hands."
Yet, no deal had been done prior to today. Raiders head coach Hue Jackson might well have been the only person in the league with the goodwill and history with Brown to get far enough in the negotiations to make the trade a remote possibility. And, considering the price the Raiders paid, he was likely the only person willing to give up that much. Which brings me to my next point.
This deal came about just one day after Raiders' owner, Al Davis' memorial service in Oakland. Had the Raiders' front office made this move a month ago, there would be little question as to whom had orchestrated the trade. Al Davis was the one who called the shots, for better or for worse. Al loved his first-rounders.
In fact, contrary to popular belief, Davis has done more than a decent job harvesting first-round talent over the years, save for one monumental mistake in 2007. Outside of JaMarcus Russell, Al has selected talent like Marcus Allen, Tim Brown, Napoleon Kaufman, Charles Woodson, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Robert Gallery.
First round picks that have made key contributions to this year's 4-2 Raiders team include former first-rounders Sebastian Janikowski, Michael Huff, Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Rolondo McClain.
Would Al Davis have made this trade if he were still living? Maybe, maybe not. Would the Raiders have made this move had Jason Campbell not suffered a potentially season-ending injury? Who knows? Would Mike Brown have made this trade had Andy Dalton, his rookie QB out of TCU, not led his team to a 4-2 start this season? Probably. I mean, c'mon... who would pass on (potentially) two first-rounders for a guy who doesn't want to play for your team anymore?
This seems like a no-brainer for the Bengals, but in the Raiders' defense it could pay dividends immediately, and first-round picks are hardly a guarantee. Think of the impact this could have on the AFC West, which at this point is a two-horse race (which ironically does not include the Denver Broncos) between the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders. With Carson Palmer now in silver and black, Philip Rivers and Matt Cassel are no longer the only starting quarterbacks in the division to have played in a playoff game. Now, there is distinct possibility that both the Raiders and Chargers see playoff action in 2011.
To those who think Palmer is on the decline, I say, "bologna!" Palmer through for nearly 4,000 yards on a 4-win Bengals team in 2010. I would also like to point out that Rich Gannon did not become a starting QB for the Raiders until he was 33 and took them to their most recent Super Bowl appearance at age 36 in 2002. A lot has to happen for Carson to do what Rich did, but he has a chance to do so with a solid running attack and much improved Raider defense.
I think it's fair to say that the Bengals got everything they dreamed of and more for Carson Palmer, while the Raiders can only dream of what's to come. Mike Brown has put his young team in a great position for the future and Hue Jackson and company have effectively told the Raider Nation that the time is now to "Just Win, Baby!"