With Carson Palmer, the Raiders won four games in 2012.
How many could they win without him in 2013?
Now that ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that the Raiders quarterback is “highly unlikely” to restructure his contract for the coming season, Oakland has been put in a precarious position.
Do the Raiders keep the veteran quarterback and pay him more than $13 million in 2013? Or do they release him, save some money and go with untested third-year pro Terrelle Pryor – or use their No. 3 overall pick in the draft on quarterback Geno Smith instead of a defensive player who might be able to stabilize a very shaky unit?
Bill Williamson, ESPN.com’s AFC West blogger, says the Raiders are in a very tough position because they don’t believe Pryor is quite ready to start and paid so much to get Palmer from the Bengals.
“Cutting Palmer would be difficult for Oakland to swallow considering it gave up its first-round pick in the 2012 draft and its second-round pick this year in a trade the previous regime made in October 2011.”
As Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group wrote, Palmer helped out the Raiders last season by restructuring his contract to save the team $9 million in salary cap space. This time, however, Palmer apparently is unwilling to change his deal in part because he knows he’d likely have some good places to land should Oakland release him.
“With Palmer playing hard ball, he clearly thinks he can get more on the open market if Oakland does release him,” wrote Williamson. “Arizona is a potential suitor, and perhaps the Raiders could try to get something in return in a trade. But if the Cardinals know the Raiders are in a tough spot, Oakland will lose any trade leverage.”
If the Raiders were to release Palmer, there are some free-agent quarterbacks available, but none is especially enticing. Among that group is Ryan Fitzpatrick, formerly of the Bills, former Raider Jason Campbell, former Steeler Charlie Batch, ex-Cardinal Kevin Kolb, Matt Leinart (who backed up Palmer last season) and Brady Quinn, let go by the Chiefs.
It’s possible Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie might believe he has his hands tied because of Palmer’s big salary – he reportedly will count more than $15 million against the cap in 2013 – and decide he has no other choice but to go on without Palmer. The Raiders, in severe rebuilding mode, might be able to win just as many games in 2013 without him as with him.
It all points to one thing, yet again: former coach Hue Jackson’s trade for Palmer has proven to be one of the costliest moves the team has made in a decade of costly, ill-advised moves.