After insisting that he would not trade quarterback Carson Palmer under any circumstances, even after Palmer threatened to retire rather than play for the his team, Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown was finally ready to bend on that issue at the 11th hour. According to a Tuesday report by Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, Brown had been talking with the Oakland Raiders about a trade that would send Palmer to the Raiders for a first-round draft pick in 2012 and a conditional first-round pick in 2013. If the Raiders win a playoff game in the 2011 season, the Bengals will get a first-rounder in 2013; it will be a second-round pick if they don't.
The trade was confirmed by ESPN's Chris Mortensen, and it will happen just before the 4 p.m. ET trade deadline.
On Tuesday morning, Shutdown Corner spoke with Travelle Gaines of Athletes Performance in Carson, Calif., where Palmer has been working out for months. As it turns out, Gaines — who also works with the Raiders in an advisory capacity — was the man the Raiders leaned on to find out what kind of football shape Palmer was in. "He looks great — he's been throwing every day, and working with Ken O'Brien, the quarterbacks coach," Gaines said. "He's been throwing to his good buddy T.J. Houshmandzadeh, working with Terrell Owens and Hank Baskett. He looks great. I think he'll be ready to go and step right in for the Raiders. He and Coach Jackson have worked together in the past, and they have a great relationship."
Gaines has built up one of the more impressive NFL clienteles as a conditioning coach over the years, and the Raiders asked him to join their staff to play a similar role in the 2011 offseason. That paid dividends when the team starting doing due diligence on Palmer's ability … and availability. "Coach Jackson leaned on me heavily through this process, and they definitely kept tabs on him," Gaines said of Palmer.
The deal makes Oakland's 2012 draft very interesting — not only did they give up their 2012 third-rounder when they selected Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor in the 2011 supplemental draft, but they will also have traded away their first-round, second-round, fourth-round, and seventh-round picks for 2012 in various other deals. The second-rounder left in a draft weekend trade with the New England Patriots, the fourth-rounder was for Jason Campbell, and the seventh-rounder was for former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry. Add in the third-rounder sacrificed for Pryor, and the Raiders might as well go fishing next April.
Of course, that's not entirely true -- they'll get compensatory picks for losing veterans like Nnamdi Asomugha, Zach Miller, and Robert Gallery -- but it's obvious that the 4-2 Raiders, who are currently in second place behind the San Diego Chargers in the AFC West, are going all out to win in a 2011 season that has been marked by the loss of Al Davis.
The Raiders were desperate for a quarterback after losing Jason Campbell to a broken collarbone and finding out that former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard, who the team was looking at in the wake of Campbell's injury, needs surgery of his own to repair a herniated disc in his back.
According to Glazer, the close relationship between Brown current Hue Jackson was the tiebreaker that sent Brown on a different path — Jackson was the Bengals' receivers coach from 2004 through 2006.
Still, it's a big move for the notoriously stubborn Brown, who will take grudges over value whenever he feels like it; we remember when the Vinny Cerrato-era Washington Redskins offered him two first-round picks for Chad Ochocinco, only to be rebuffed.
"Carson signed a contract, he made a commitment," Brown said of the situation in late July. "He gave us his word. We relied on his word and his commitment. We expected him to perform here. If he is going to walk away from his commitment we aren't going to reward him for doing it."
It's also possible that Brown never expected to receive a first-round pick and more from any team. Although Palmer ranked decently in Football Outsiders' DVOA and DYAR metrics in 2010, the Bengals had no qualms about drafting TCU quarterback Andy Dalton and moving forward with the rookie under center. They're 4-2 with Dalton's efforts, the great productivity of rookie wideout A.J. Green, and one of the best defenses in the league. It could be that Brown, sitting in the catbird seat as he is, took a rare shot at recognizing when another team was overvaluing one of his assets.
There's also the matter of Palmer's contract, which would ostensibly revert entirely to the Raiders. Right now, in the contract extension that runs through 2014, Palmer is due base salaries of $11.5 million in 2011 (more like $6.9 million prorated for 2011) and 2012. Oakland's front office will certainly work to reduce those numbers going forward in some kind of restructure, which could be why the trade wasn't consummated more quickly. The Raiders are currently about $6 million under the salary cap.
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