The Raiders and Carson Palmer are doing a slow break-up right now -- they're studying each other (remotely, via agents and shadow-play intimations) and it sounds like they're deciding they don't love each other so much any more.
Awww, how sad. The Raiders want to shave down his $13 million salary, Palmer is resisting, and this all seems like it's headed to Palmer leaving the Raiders via trade or release unless some last-minute rapprochement is achieved.
Oh, and also this: So what?
It's not like Palmer and the Raiders were a match made in NFL heaven, and in fact, this was one of the most desperate and panicky unions in recent sports memory. (Obvious from the get-go if you were paying attention.)
Let's spell it out:
And the Raiders -- in the weeks after Al Davis' death, under the manic temporary control of Hue Jackson -- were the only team dumb enough to pay a ridiculous price for Palmer.
(To recap: the Raiders 2012 first-round pick and a second-round pick this year... yes, the sagging end of the Palmer Era could come before the Raiders are finished giving Cincinnati what it took to get him: THAT IS A TERRIBLE TRADE.)
Moral of the story: When you force your own cheap team to trade you, often the only team that will pay the price to get you is the one in the worst shape. Which inevitably leads to the next round of "Get Me Outta Here" theater.
I get Palmer's thinking; he's no dummy, he has talent, he doesn't want to waste it playing in a meaningless situation, and that's what the Raiders have been during his time, before his time, and surely will be for a few years after his time served.
The Raiders have a chance to get better under Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen, but I'm sure Palmer can see that it won't be while he still has life left in his arm.
Palmer's not a bad guy; he just keeps getting himself into these no-win situations and unless he wins a Super Bowl somewhere (VERY unlikely if he ends up in Arizona), then I think he will be remembered more for this stuff than actually winning games.
I mean, if your career arc is to go from Cincinnati to the Raiders to Arizona (and then probably to Back-Up Land), that's not exactly a glorious march to the top.
He's OK, but he's not anything close to what he used to be and never will be again; he's not going to single-handedly win many games, especially with the talent around him the last few years.
When he arrived in the East Bay, Palmer was many seasons removed from his Pro Bowl heights (though I still chuckle when I look back and remember how hard the Raiders pushed Palmer as a "Pro Bowl quarterback" MORE THAN FOUR YEARS after his last appearance as an AFC all-star.)
The Raiders have lost with Palmer -- 24 starts, 8-16 record -- and they will lose this year whether Palmer is their QB or Matt Flynn or Kevin Kolb or Terrelle Pryor.
The main reason they should be willing to bring Palmer back at starting QB salary (but shaved down from $13M) is that they want to field a competitive team -- and Allen and McKenzie don't want to be fired, which they might be if they don't field a competitive team again this year -- and Palmer at QB can help out that cause.
But if you're Mark Davis, do you want Palmer around making large money if he's giving every indication that he wants out? What does Palmer want? To go to Arizona or to be a back-up for the 49ers?
And if Palmer is willing to think about being a back-up with the 49ers (surely at a salary WAY less than $10M) just to escape Raidersland, why would the Raiders want him being anywhere near their locker room?
No, if you're the Raiders, you probably want to see what Flynn can do, if you don't have to send Seattle too much in draft-pick compensation (maybe a mid-round pick this year and something else in 2014) and you can winnow down Flynn's own salary from $6M. Or you take a look at Kolb, or someone else.
You can go 4-12 with Matt Flynn or Kolb or Name the QB just as easily as you went 4-12 with Palmer in 2012. Again: So what?
In the end, this is just how terrible deals inevitably turn out.
Palmer knew at the time and the Raiders should've known all along that this was a marriage of random convenience and if the slightest pressure was put on it, that's when it'd blow up -- as it did for Palmer in Cincinnati.
But if you're making decisions under that kind of desperate pressure, you're never really going to think it through. And you're going to pay for it. You always do.