So much for Jason Campbell being the next Jim Plunkett. While Campbell was undergoing surgery for a broken collarbone Monday, the Raiders were plotting a future without the quarterback who won 11 of 18 starts in silver and black. No room for sentiment. No time to waiver.
High-stakes gambler Hue Jackson was true to form: He went with his gut and doubled down. In giving up what could be two future first-round picks to acquire Cincinnati Bengals QB Carson Palmer, the Raiders finally have an accomplished pocket passer, and at the same time acknowledged that Campbell is not the man to lead them back to prominence.
Plagued by inconsistency and indecision his entire career, Jason won’t be re-signed when his contract expires at season’s end. The Raiders also rightfully didn’t believe Kyle Boller could carry them to the playoffs and backup Terrelle Pryor has never taken a snap in an NFL game.
So it was the perfect time to be bold and go after Palmer.
Of course, the Bengals were telling everyone they would not trade Palmer, who had vowed never again to play in Cincinnati and walked away from football despite having four years left on his contract. So just how ready and eager was Palmer to resume his career?
After learning from team advisor Travelle Gaines that Palmer looked great in recent workouts with former teammates T.J Houshmandzadeh and Terrell Owens, Jackson reached out to his ex-boss, Bengals owner Mike Brown, to cut the deal. The Raiders made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. The coup for Hue was done. The ever-persuasive Jackson has been right about a lot of things in his short tenure in Oakland. This move is the ultimate litmus test. If it works, Coliseum sellouts and trips to the playoffs will surely follow. But not only are the Raiders without top picks in the next two drafts, they will be paying Palmer $43 million through 2014. That’s a lot of money for a guy who has a losing career record (46-51) and no postseason wins.
Then again, in 2005, Palmer led the lowly Bengals back to respectability by throwing 32 touchdowns before tearing his ACL on the opening drive of a 31-17 playoff loss at Pittsburgh. Carson’s only other playoff appearance came at Cincinnati in 2009 in a 24-14 upset loss to the New York Jets.
At 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, the 31-year-old Palmer was never very mobile, but he is a tough guy with a strong and accurate arm.
With games on the schedule against the likes of Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler, at least the Raiders can now turn those aerial duels into something approaching a fair fight. Bully for you, Hue.
KGO (810 AM) Sports Director Rich Walcoff can be heard weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on the KGO morning news. He can be reached at RichWalcoff@gmail.com.