Carson Palmer Traded by Cincinnati Bengals to the Oakland Raiders: A Win for Both Sides, Baby

The Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals have closed a deal that will send exiled quarterback and former Pro Bowler Carson Palmer to the Raiders in exchange for a 2012 first round pick and a conditional 2013 first round pick.

Twitter and Facebook are buzzing about this deal, with most coming to the consensus that Oakland, as they are wont to do, is overpaying for a player with questions surrounding his ability and desire.  But if we examine this situation, that might not be true.

Impact of the Carson Palmer Trade on Oakland

carson palmer raidersPalmer is less than a year removed from playing all 16 games for the Bengals and throwing for nearly 4000 yards.  He did pile up 20 interceptions, but the rest of Cincinnati’s offense struggled too, with Chad Ochocinco’s sharp decline (831 yards, 4 TD) and Cedric Benson’s YPC dropping to just 3.5.

If Palmer is in shape ,he has a chance to play almost immediately in Oakland, and his supporting weapons will be much stronger than those he had in his final season with Cincinnati.  Darren McFadden and the Raiders’ punishing running game will allow Palmer some freedom to operate and give him underneath and screen options he never had with the likes of Rudi Johnson and Benson.  He has a group of emerging playmakers at wide receiver, including the much-maligned Darrius Heyward-Bey, who is quietly putting up a very solid season (17 catches, 296 yards last 3 games).  Throw versatile wideouts Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore in the mix and Palmer will have arguably his most talented supporting cast ever.

Another thing to consider is that Palmer in Cincinnati was never really the right fit.  Palmer admitted to disliking Ohio State and the fans of Ohio.  Now he will get to play just a couple of hours from his hometown of Fresno and a couple more from his alma mater USC.  His attitude should be sufficiently adjusted, given the opportunity he has to win and the comfort of playing back in California for the first time in almost a decade.

black hole raiders

As long as the Raiders keep winning these fans will welcome Carson Palmer with open arms.

Lastly for the Raiders, this trade is a total Al Davis-style move.  Al specialized in landing castoffs and retreads and turning them into valuable players.  His track record waned the past few years, but clearly the Raiders’ resurgence of late was a product of Al’s vision.  The players who have gotten the Raiders back to respectability and on the brink of even more – McFadden, Ford, Sebastian Janikowski (a kicker taken in the first round?  Gasp!), Richard Seymour, among them – were considered poor moves by Davis until the recent bout of success.

With this success, the 2012 first round pick is likely to be later in the draft and not a top-ten like the Raiders have had so often in the past 10 years.  The 2013 pick will kick in based on performance incentives from Palmer, which is a win for Oakland as well, because if Palmer is playing well then it is likely the Raiders are winning.  The Raiders have a few holes to plug still (most glaringly at cornerback), but I think they plugged their biggest one with this trade.

Impact of the Carson Palmer Trade on Cincinnati

andy dalton bengalsFor Cincinnati this trade is a roaring success.  Palmer was collecting dust in his self-imposed exile, and worst of all (for him) rookie Andy Dalton has come on like wildfire and led the team to an unexpected 4-2 record.  Cincinnati needed to trade Palmer, but owner Mike Brown’s stubbornness was expected to eliminate the chance of that ever happening.

To Brown’s credit (or dumb luck), a team became just desperate enough to give up a treasure – first round picks – to acquire Palmer.  The Bengals can now focus on further rebuilding during a time when AFC North stalwarts Baltimore and Pittsburgh are showing signs of age and vulnerability.

The Bengals can now target a replacement for Benson or another wide receiver to go with standout rookie A.J. Green, which may become a necessity depending on the outcome Jerome Simpson’s marijuana trafficking situation.  This would provide the Bengals with a core of youth that can learn and gel together and truly build a sustained winner for years to come.

Rarely do trades like this work out well for both teams, but my initial thought is that this was a wise move on both sides.  Al Davis would be proud, the Raiders should be able to keep improving, and the Bengals are no longer in Palmer-limbo and can focus on further improving an already brilliant young cast of players.


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About Keith Mullett

Keith is an Ohio-based sports and pop culture junkie who began writing for MSF in June 2011. His ramblings about sports, music, movies and books can be further enjoyed by following him on Twitter @keithmullett.

In addition to his work for MSF, Keith operates a blog called Commercial Grade, in which he critiques television commercials from the perspective of the average viewer.


  1. Wait, was the Jason Campbell era that bad? I feel like this is an extreme overreaction.

    • keithmullett says:

      The Kyle Boller era of 2+ quarters was that bad. I think the Raiders feel like the West is wide open right now and they need to try to win this year.

      • drewlange says:

        I get that, but long term. Jason Campbell is going to heal and come back, and to me he looked like a guy who could lead a team into the playoffs. A guy like McNabb or Garrard would have been a suitable fit until Campbell heals, not wasting two first round picks.

        • keithmullett says:

          How dare you try to pass McNabb off on the Raiders!

          I do agree with the long term thing, but this franchise is so starved for a playoff berth they are willing to do anything.

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