The pain is nearly gone now, almost 2 years later. But now thinking back on the Palmer trade, I wonder if there are some things we can learn going forward. Of course, it's pointless to focus on the past, but it may be interesting to look at it and see what sort of influence it may have had and how different the current team would be (if at all). This may inform our decisions going forward.
It's too easy to say that the trade was worth Dre Kirkpatrick + Gio Bernard; it's not that simple, though naturally that is a factor.
So here's an outloud thought about how things may have progressed for the Raiders if the trade had not gone down:
Going into Week 6 against Cleveland, the Raiders are 3-2. But while scrambling for a 1st down, QB Jason Campbell slides awkwardly and fractures his clavicle. He is out for at least 6 weeks. The Raiders still managed to beat Cleveland to go to 4-2 and lead the AFC West.
It is at this point that Hue Jackson pulls of the trade for Carson Palmer, which he immodestly called "The greatest trade in football", sending 1st and 2nd round picks to Cincinnati for the QB who refused to report to Bengals camp.
Palmer has been on the team for less than 5 days when the Week 7 game against KC comes. Kyle Boller starts the game but when he proceeds to throw 3 ints in the first half, including a pick-6, the patience is gone. In the 2nd half, Palmer takes over and the rest is history.
So what would have happened if the Raiders had not made that trade. Imagine that Mark Davis puts his foot down and says, "No" to the trade. Instead, the Raiders have to weather the storm and see what happens.
This is what might have occured.
The Raiders with Boller, Edwards, and Pryor would lose the remaining 10 games of the season; this would result in the Chiefs and Chargers both at 9-7 with the Chargers winning the tie-breaker. The the Broncos would end up 8-8 (3rd place) and the Raiders would finish a distant 4th at 4-12.
In the playoffs, SD hosts Pittsburgh in the Wild card round, but since it is not at Mile high, Ryan Clark plays for the Steelers. Steelers would beat SD and then NE and lose to Baltimore in the AFC Championship game. Baltimore would then go on to win the Superbowl.
RAIDERS RESULTS :
* 4-12 instead of 8-8
* Blowout losses instead of close losses or wins.
* 2010's 8-8 seems a mirage.
* Team is ripe to be "blown up"
* Raiders are in full rebuild
* Very low expectations for 2012
SIDE EFFECTS :
* Baltimore World Champions one year early
* Joe Flacco contract talks accelerate and he gets his long-term contract one year earlier.
* Denver's 8-8 does not make the playoffs. Without the OT TD pass to Demaryius Thomas, Tebow's profile is slightly lessened.
Back in Oakland, the purge begins almost immediately, similar to what happened anyway. Mark Davis hires Reggie McKenzie. McKenzie fires Hue Jackson and hires Dennis Allen and the coaching staff takes shape similarly.
McKenzie would still cut Stanford Routt, Kamerion Wimbley, Chris Johnson, and Aaron Curry. But McKenzie would be in position to cut Richard Seymour and his big contract instead of restructuring it. With no Carson Palmer contract, McKenzie now has little more freedom to do so.
In the 2012 draft, since the Raiders did not trade Palmer, they keep their 1st round pick. Additionally, since they finished 4-12, they pick in the #4 slot ahead of Minnesota, Cleveland, and TB.
Even though these Raiders have recouped that one Palmer pick, the Raiders still have a depleted draft. While Reggie McKenzie would love to trade up to get RG3 as the franchise QB, The Redskins have set the market price with an offer of 3 1st rounders + 1 2nd rounder. The Raiders don't have a 2nd rounder and cannot trade their 3rd Compensatory, making it difficut to match. Plus, the price of 3 1sts is very high and the Raiders back out of the negotiations and the Redskins get their QB. In this deal-making it is possible that St Louis squeezes even a little bit more out of Washington if Oakland is getting involved in a bidding war.
The Raiders final 2012 draft class would look like :
1. Michael Brockers, DT
2. Bobby Wagner, LB
3. Tony Bergstrom, OG
4a. Brandon Boykin, CB
4b. Miles Burris, LB
5. Jack Crawford, DE
5. Juron Criner, WR
6. Christo Bilukidi, DT
7. Nathan Stupar, LB
SIDE EFFECTS :
* Seattle lost out on Wagner; the Seahawks don't miss a beat, possibly taking LB Lavonte David.
* St Louis misses out on trade down with Dallas and so takes Matt Kalil to bolster OLine, meaning they don't need to go after Jake Long in 2013, but they also do not get Brockers, Isaih Pead or Rokevious Watkins.
With limited QB options, the Raiders sign Jason Campbell to a 2yr deal as their starter
Going into the 2012 season, the Raiders' defense would be improved with Wagner starting over McClain and Brockers starting over Kelly. This would accelerate McClain's meltdown and subsequent suspension. Kelly, now a backup and without Richard Seymour next to him, would grow increasingly disinterested and ineffective. He would be inactive that last few games of the season, paving the way for his release.
The offense would still be mess. McFadden is unable to run the ball as the offense struggles with Greg Knapp's play design and offensive scheme. Jason Campbell can't make up for any deficiencies and the team struggles. Games that Carson Palmer was able to keep close (Tampa Bay, Atlanta) totally get away from Campbell and the team loses any "Style Points" they may have otherwise had. The QB situation in Oakland compares to that in Buffalo and in Arizona. Not good.
SIDE EFFECT :
In the 2013 Draft, Reggie gets to keep his 2nd round pick, #37 (for Palmer); he still trades down in the first round and picks up the Dolphins' 2nd rounder in the process. With their additional 2nd rounder, they take WR Aaron Dobson from Marshall.
The Raiders 2013 draft class looks like this :
1. DJ Hayden, CB
2a. Aaron Dobson, WR
2b. Menelik Watson, OT
3. Sio Moore, LB
4. Tyler Wilson, QB
6a. Nick Kasa, TE
6b. Latavius Murray, RB
6c. Mychal Rivera, TE
6d. Stacy McGee, DT
7a. Brice Butler, WR
7b. David Bass, DE
Carson Palmer and Richard Seymour dead Money accounted for about $23M in dead money on the Raiders' 2013 cap. If there was no Palmer trade and McKenzie had taken the Seymour hit in the previous year, the 2013 Raiders would have an extra $23M in cap space to work with.
Reggie lets Wheeler and Bryant leave for contracts he was unwilling to match, even though he had some money to work with.
With Bryant and Kelly both gone, the Raiders would still need DT depth and so signing Vance Walker and Pat Sims are still both good signings and expected. The linebacker corps would have a mainstay at MLB with Bobby Wagner and so Nick Roach as a SLB is still a good signing, but Kaluka Maiava and Kevin Burnett are less likely.
The defense might look like :
DE : Elvis Dumervil, Lamaar Houston, Jack Crawford
DT : Michael Brockers, Vance Walker, Pat Sims, Christo Bilukidi
LB : Nick Roach, Bobby Wagner, Sio Moore
S : Tyvon Branch, Glover Quin, CWood.
On the offensive side, Jason Campbell would be cut and the trade for Flynn is still a natural one. The RT position has its future in rookie Menelik Watson, but with extra cap room, McKenzie might be able to find a better short term fit than Khalif Barnes. He could conceivably spend some money on Tyson Clabo on a 1 or 2 year deal.
With Tony Sparano as the offensive line coach, the Raiders signed former Dolphins backup TE Jeron Mastrud. With more money to spend, perhaps McKenzie could instead bring in Anthony Fasano as the Tight end, a better blocker and better receiver and someone that Sparano is very familiar with.
The Offense might looks like :
OL : Veldheer, Bergstrom, Wisniewski, Brisiel, Clabo/Menelik Watson
QB: Matt Flynn, Tyler Wilson
TE : Fasano, Richard Gordon, David Ausberry, Nick Kasa, Michael Rivera
The outlook for 2013 is a bit more positive. Still too many question marks, but some good talent on the roster and a manageable cap. 2014 is still the target year and the team woudl have a real chance to be good by then. As it is, it might take until 2015 for the real-life Raiders to get to that same point. It seems like the Palmer trade really did set the Raiders back about one full year in the rebuild, all things said.
So was it worth it? The comparison to Suck for Luck may be surprisingly apropos. The downside of not making the trade is that the Raiders would have been painfully irrelevant the past two years while the Palmer-Raiders had more enthusiasm and hope even if the Net results were about the same. Does it make a difference to win 4 games and miss the playoffs or to win 8 games and still miss the playoffs? Does it make a difference being blown out of every game in a 4 win season with little reason to watch the games and of having a "puncher's chance" in more games and to lose late in the 4th quarter? That's certainly a personal opinion and preference, but with all that behind us, there's still a lot of work ahead. The trade didn't kill everything, but it certainly did add a level of difficulty to the current rebuild.
SIDE EFFECTS :
* Carson Palmer would be retired by now
* Arizona would have drafted a QB, possibly Matt Barkley in the 2nd/3rd round and may have kept Kolb.
* Bengals would not have as much depth.
* More fans would hate the Ravens