Carson Palmer to exit Oakland, enter Arizona?
Part of the draft process is to keep an eye on the other teams in the NFC West. One development today could have an impact for arguably the weakest team in the division.
Interesting: now “highly unlikely” Carson Palmer will be willing to restructure his contract meaning OAK pays him $13 million or cuts him.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 25, 2013
Arizona ended last year a shambles. The 58-0 defeat against Seattle was the tipping point for a season that started so brightly (4-0) and ended with a whimper. At the core of everything was a mess at quarterback. John Skelton, Kevin Kolb and Ryan Lindley all took turns to be the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. The end product was a complete clear-out of the coaching staff and front office.
Bruce Arians was appointed mainly off the back of his work with Andrew Luck during his rookie season. It seemed a formality that Arians would be tasked with working the same kind of magic with another rookie in Arizona.
Does today’s news regarding Carson Palmer change anything? Quite possibly.
The Cardinals basically have two striking needs. Their offensive line is poor overall and the quarterback position is a mess. Ideally they’d fill both areas this off-season, least temporarily. They’ve (typically) stayed clear of spending any money in free agency despite a decent crop of offensive tackles becoming available (plus a favourable market). And despite noises to the contrary, it’s highly unlikely Arians truly believes he’s good-to-go with Drew Stanton at quarterback. Not unless he’s been told a 4-12 season is OK in year one.
The Raiders are in the process of a humongous rebuild. It’s a hack job for the ages — they need to bring in the demolition crew and get to work over several years. Oakland are basically in expansion franchise mode right now, mostly because the previous regime gambled and lost on Carson Palmer being the missing link to a post-season appearance.
Paying Palmer $13m this year makes absolutely no sense. He has little to no chance of winning in Oakland, yet earns a significant salary for his efforts. They’re better off making a saving, accepting the situation and building around a young core. That could mean drafting a quarterback at #3 or in the third round. It could mean turning the keys over to Terrelle Pryor to see if he has any kind of shot to make it in the league. None of these options are ideal, but clinging onto an expensive ageing veteran at $13m makes little sense.
Palmer might earn $13m this year, but he’ll take up $15m on the cap in total. The Raiders can save $6m by moving on. That money is better off sitting in the front office, waiting to be pushed forward into next year. They need a youth movement with heavy competition, much like Seattle. In fact the Seahawks should created the blueprint for any team facing the same bleak future Seattle faced in 2010.
Oakland has to tear everything down and start again. I think GM Reggie McKenzie probably would’ve loved to do that last year, but he didn’t have a single pick in the first two days of the 2012 draft. And without the opportunity to get busy, what choice did he have put to meander onwards? Now he has a shot to make this his team. To put down some roots. He’s another Green Bay exile and will share some of John Schneider’s visions. I can’t see him clinging to Palmer in the hope he creates a miracle. A revolution is required.
If or when Palmer hits the market, Arizona seems like the ideal home. He could be another Kurt Warner. It’d buy some time for Arians in the toughest division in football (and it really is, let’s be right). It’d also allow him to concentrate on repairing that weak offensive line at #7 with either Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson or Chance Warmack. Throw in a tight end in round two (Zach Ertz?) or even a running back (Eddie Lacy?) and suddenly they have an offense that looks like it might be able to compete.
They could still draft a quarterback later on as a longer term possibility, but Palmer would provide some veteran leadership in a one or two year rental situation. While it might only produce a six or seven win season for the Cardinals, at least the Arians/Steve Keim era would have some forward momentum. And the Seahawks have shown that starting a new regime with two 7-9 seasons isn’t necessarily a road to constant mediocrity.
One realistic possibility could be the idea of going Fisher/Johnson and then Mike Glennon in round two. Certainly Glennon has the kind of arm strength Arians is used to working with. There’s something to be said for not ‘needing’ to panic at quarterback, however. I think Seattle showed that. You’d have to feel very comfortable about Glennon to go in that direction. And Arians hasn’t really hand-picked Ben Roethlisberger or Andrew Luck, so we don’t know that arm strength is the defining factor here. I doubt the rest of the division would be too concerned about that prospect of facing Glennon, even with Fitzgerald as a target. However, the Cardinals will conduct a private work-out with the NC State quarterback tomorrow.
If the Cardinals do add Palmer, Johnson and Ertz to their offense, it could provide a fourth wheel to the blossoming monster truck named the NFC West. They’d still be favourites to finish 4th in the division, but they’d certainly offer a few blooded noses along the way and re-establish some momentum. Rest assured nobody will be particularly concerned about the Cardinals if they’re starting Drew Stanton at quarterback. And I say that as a fan. But I’m really only a fan because his second name is very similar to mine.
Big day for Barkley
Wednesday is a crucial day for Matt Barkley. After an off-season of constant hand-wringing about his arm strength (can anyone remember the comparison to Kellen Moore a few weeks ago? Who said that again?), he finally gets a chance to gain some momentum.
There’s no doubting he’ll perform well. After all, when’s the last time you heard a negative report from a college pro-day? And despite a lot of negativity around his physical performance in college, I suspect there will be a handful of teams ready to put their stock in his talents.
Don’t count out the Jaguars here. I think there’s an extremely strong chance they’ll move down from #2 with teams like Buffalo looking to get hold of Geno Smith. They could possibly move down again from the #8 range to accumulate further picks. Don’t forget how Carroll and Schneider built their defense in Seattle — the core didn’t come in the first round. The Jaguars could search for role players (LEO, interior size, talented safety) in rounds 2-3.
Gus Bradley will surely be aware of Barkley’s talents having spent a lot of time with Carroll. I have no doubt whatsoever that had Russellmania never happened in Seattle, they’d be targeting Barkley to lead Seattle’s offense. We’ll see what happens. Yet as far as matches go, I think Barkley in Jacksonville isn’t an unrealistic proposition. The hoopla about their presence at the West Virginia pro-day looked a bit of a smoke screen to me (RE: Geno Smith). We’ll see what presence they have at USC on Wednesday.
Ohio State’s John Simon is a favourite on this blog and it was good to see he enjoyed a productive work-out today in front of scouts. He’s been struggling with a slight injury since the Senior Bowl.
John Simon/DE-OLB/Ohio St pro-day: 4.62s-40, 34inch vert, 10′ 1″ broad,7.10 3Cone, 4.2s short shuttle..caught all passes in LB drills.. — Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) March 25, 2013
More on John Simon/DE-OLB/Ohio St:looked terrific in DL & OLB drills.Fluid and quick.Pass coverage skills & ability to drop surprising
— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) March 25, 2013
If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, here’s a refresher: