When former Raiders coach Hue Jackson acquired quarterback Carson Palmer from the Bengals last October, Jackson called it the “greatest trade in football.”
At the time, Jackson believed he needed Palmer. By trading for the Bengals holdout, he was rolling the dice and giving his team a jolt he thought it needed to reach the playoffs.
Yet in the trade, the Raiders gave up what turned out to be first- and second-round picks, a high price.
Now, with Jackson long gone and new GM Reggie McKenzie trying to rebuild the Raiders after yet another season out of the playoffs, many believe the Palmer trade has tied McKenzie’s hands.
He has very few choices in this year’s draft, and he has a quarterback that may not be exactly what he wants.
But in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Peter King that appeared Monday, McKenzie made two clear points: First, that he believes Palmer is a fine quarterback; and second, that he and his front-office staff can find good football players without having a wealth of high picks.
When asked about the high price for Palmer, McKenzie told King: “You can beat that doggone story ‘til it’s worn out. But I know this: We’ve got a quarterback we think can win the division and take us to the playoffs. Losing a one and a two doesn’t bother me one bit.”
And as far as having few draft picks later this month – including no first- or second-rounders – McKenzie doesn’t seem bothered. He knew what the situation was when he took the job after many years with the Green Bay Packers, which included a roster of players that far exceeded the salary cap.
McKenzie’s offseason has included much work getting players to renegotiate deals to save money, while releasing others.
Yet McKenzie has confidently expressed his belief since taking the job that he has a long-term plan to put the Raiders back on track.
“Never thought ‘Woe is me,’ ” he told King. “Not once. Never thought I shouldn’t take the job because of things like that, either. It never entered my mind. I just figured, ‘We’ll find players.’ I know how to find players. I’ve been in Green Bay when we found Mark Tauscher and Donald Driver late in drafts and found Tramon Williams on the street and signed Charles Woodson in free agency. It can be done.”