It's another day to write about quarterbacks. Three topics I want to clear up, in the wake of all the quarterback action in the last few days.
The Carson Palmer deal had to get done. As Adam Schefter reported this afternoon, the Raiders got an embarrassingly low pick for Palmer: a conditional seventh-rounder in 2014, paid only if Palmer starts 13 games or more this year (plus, as it turns out, the Cardinals swapping a sixth-round pick this year for Oakland's seventh-rounder). The reason Oakland couldn't drive a hard bargain anymore is because the Raiders acquired Matt Flynn to be their starter headed into training camp, and the 49ers">49ers, the only team that had late-round interest in Palmer other than Arizona, solved their quarterback-insurance problem Monday by acquiring Colt McCoy from Cleveland. So what happened is Arizona GM Steve Keim held firm, and the Cards let Oakland know if the price was too high, they'd simply wait for the inevitable release of Palmer. And in the end, the Raiders had to give Palmer away. As I wrote Monday, Palmer is a perfect fit for the deep-throwing Bruce Arians offense.
Why the musical chairs now, almost a month before the draft? Because the market for veteran quarterbacks had limited slots this offseason, and once the spaces started to fill up, teams scrambled to not be left out in the cold. Kansas City, Buffalo, Oakland and Arizona were going to change starters, Jacksonville and Philadelphia were considering changes, and the Niners, Jets and Browns wanted quality backups. Kansas City's trade for Alex Smith left San Francisco needing a reserve, and McCoy fit the Jim Harbaugh preference for a mobile, heady passer. Buffalo dropped one disappointing quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and picked up an injury-plagued one, Kevin Kolb. Oakland was underwhelmed with Carson Palmer at $13 million per, isn't sure about a long-term quarterback, and will give Matt Flynn first shot out of the box. Arizona will likely have three quarterbacks with better-than-average arms -- Palmer, Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley -- make the roster. The Jags and Eagles decided to fill from within, for now. Who knows what draft day will bring.
Some common sense about Tony Romo. The Cowboys made a decision this offseason in re-signing Tony Romo for less than all the marquee quarterbacks have gotten in recent deals or will get in the coming year or so, excepting Tom Brady. That decision, basically, was this: Should we pay a quarterback who has been consistently good to very good in the regular season, with some disappointing clutch moments and a poor 1-3 playoff record? Or should we dip our toe back into the quarterback pool, use our first-round pick on, say, Matt Barkley this year, and develop him to replace Romo? Think about it. Not even the biggest Romo detractor could say he's the Cowboys' biggest problem. And I would maintain, all in all, he's one of their strongest assets. Look at these numbers and see what life was like between Troy Aikman and Romo, when the Cowboys had a succession of Quincy Carters and Chad Hutchinsons try to win the quarterback job:
(For symmetry's sake, I used the won-lost record for seven full seasons prior to Romo and seven full seasons with Romo, even though Romo has started 93 of 112 games in his seven seasons. Dallas' record with Romo starting is 55-38. The quarterback rating for Romo's seven years is for Romo only.)
How do you look at those numbers and believe Romo is the problem? How do you look at those numbers and say, "Let's try a new guy who might be Tom Brady but also might be Gary Hogeboom?''
It's fair game to criticize Jerry Jones for lots of things. Signing Romo to be the quarterback of the Cowboys for the next five or six years isn't one of them.
GOOD QUESTION, JOHN. "If it's good for Oakland to get rid of Carson Palmer, why is it good for Arizona to get him? You indicated he has no chance to be the answer in Oakland even though they let him throw downfield last year, your key reason you think he'll do well in Arizona. I'm missing something here.''
-- John Mullane, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Because the Raiders don't think Palmer is a premier quarterback, were never going to pay him like one, and didn't want to pay him $13 million this year when they knew he wasn't going to be their quarterback long-term. Arizona, meanwhile, has been searching for a competent quarterback with a good downfield arm ever since Bruce Arians took the head-coaching job in January. Palmer, clearly, was the best man on the market when those qualifications are applied to all the available quarterbacks. And the Cardinals, being the only team with a clear starting job available, could pay Palmer something near his market value and -- I'm assuming -- include incentives in the contract that will reward Palmer if he's as good as he thinks he still is.
SIGN OF THE TIMES. "Your comparison of Aaron Rodgers and Bart Starr is interesting. Is it intended to compliment Aaron, diminish the accomplishments of Bart or demonstrate how much the game has changed over the last fifty years? As a fan of both quarterbacks, the one statistic where I most want Aaron Rodgers to equal or surpass Bart Starr, is NFL World Championships won. Both players and men are true winners.''
-- Brad Wiersum, Minnetonka, Minn.
Just simply a way to show how much the game has changed. I thought most football fans would be surprised to see that Rodgers in five years had thrown significantly more touchdown passes than Starr did in 14.
I'M SURE PALMER HAS THOUGHT OF THIS, BUT ... "I think Carson Palmer should think twice about going to Arizona. I remember in years past thinking Big Ben Roethlisberger for the Steelers held the ball way too long and was going to get himself killed. This year in Indy, Andrew Luck looked the exact same way which makes you reach the conclusion it is not the player, it is the system. I think Ben and Luck are very strong and very tough players. With the state of the Cards line (which you mentioned), I would be shocked if Palmer would make it past mid season next year. Nothing against Palmer but he is a lot less mobile and a lot older than Ben and Luck. Obviously Arians is a good coach which his players respect and respond to, I just don't think it is as good of a fit as you do.''
-- Rob, Fort Wayne, Ind.
No question the offensive line could get Palmer buried. But what are the alternatives? Robert Griffin III isn't available. You've got to play the hand you're dealt, and in my opinion, instead of drafting a quarterback who would be questionable long-term, I'd rather draft one of the three very good tackles available in the first round, and give Palmer a chance to throw it up for Larry Fitzgerald.
RICK DOESN'T THINK REVIS IS WORTH TWO HIGH DRAFT PICKS. "Trading that much for Darrelle Revis is a bad idea. The Bucs are not one player away from winning it all. Revis has proven himself as a player more focused on his contract and he uses the media to push that agenda. Greg Schiano isn't the type of coach to condone that. The Bucs are a young team. I am not sure Revis is the type of player you want mentoring your young players. I say one second-round pick and a contract worth no more than $9 million a year considering the current CB market would be a fair trade.''
-- Rick, Providence.
That's not going to get it done -- either in compensation paid to the Jets, or contract paid to Revis. You may be right about the Bucs not being close. But I will say that they were playing well at the start of last year, and if Josh Freeman can be a B quarterback, they acquire Revis, and Revis stays healthy, there is no reason why Tampa Bay can't win 10 games and be a playoff contender.
HE LIKED THE PALMER TRADE FOR OAKLAND. "You wrote, 'The Palmer trade, which he engineered, is a killer,' speaking for Hue Jackson. The cost of Carson Palmer: Dre Kirkpatrick and the 37th pick in 2013, a weak draft. I don't see it being such a terrible trade. Yes, Oakland didn't win with Palmer. They wouldn't have won with Kirkpatrick either, and Palmer had a much better chance of being a game changer than some random first round pick (that I will remind you - you just last week showed how truly non-valuable draft picks are by showing how few turn out to be any good).''
-- David Ottosen, Edmonton.
David, I find three flaws here, though I have to say in the end, the best thing you say is no draft choice is ever guaranteed, so why not take a shot on a competent quarterback? Turns out the Raiders paid a one and a two for Palmer, then two low picks for his nominal successor, Matt Flynn. You don't know who Oakland would have taken with that first-round pick, the 17th pick, last year. New GM Reggie McKenzie might have beefed up his offensive line with Riley Reiff, or taken a young defensive end like Chandler Jones, or an outside rusher like Whitney Mercilus. And no matter who he took, how can you pass judgment on a player after one season? Finally, you got 1.5 seasons, and an 8-16 record, out of a quarterback you paid first- and second-round picks for. That, my friend, is terrible value.