Raiders mailbag: Talking Palmer and roster issues

Raiders mailbag: Talking Palmer and roster issues
March 28, 2013, 1:45 pm
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Carson Palmer, due $13 million this year, reportedly balked at a pay cut to $10 million. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Free agency and trades in the NFL have been in full effect for more than two weeks and the rebuilding Raiders have taken a decidedly low-key approach in signing seven off-the-radar free agents, six of whom play defense, re-structuring the contracts of two of their own players while cutting four and losing seven others to free agency.

Per the new CBA, teams can designate two players to be cut on June 1, meaning their respective cap hits can be spread out over two years to lesson said hit. Michael Huff, who was cut on March 12 and has since signed with the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, was so designated, so the Raiders still have one June 1 cut remaining. Rolando McClain? Carson Palmer?

In any event, I've been told there is no urgency inside the walls at 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway to make a "decision" on Palmer. There is, however, urgency in my mailbag...

NEED TO RELEASE #PALMER WE CANNOT AFFORD HIM HE IS ASKING FOR TOO MUCH !!! #13 MILL FOR #CPB HELL NO (@831lildre)
First off, WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME?!? Second, Carson Palmer is not "asking" for $13 million, it's actually what he's contractually owed after re-structuring last year and playing for the vet minimum as his base salary. Now, in the NFL, where contracts are not fully guaranteed, it's all a moot point. And our corporate cousins at Yahoo! Sports are reporting that Palmer has balked at a pay cut that would pay him $10 million, intimating that he might be more comfortable leaving the rebuilding Raiders and playing for less in a more stable situation. I know what purportedly went down in Cincinnati, but Palmer has never struck me as anything but a hard-working veteran who's not looking for an easy way out, his "retirement" from the Bengals notwithstanding. The last thing Palmer told me, via email, was that he was not sure what was going to happen but hoped to return to Oakland. As I wrote earlier this week, Palmer is not the problem; but he's probably not the answer for the future. Yet truly, he gives the Raiders the best chance to win now…but probably not enough to win the division. Not with so many other holes on the roster. And is that worth $13 million, or should the Raiders simply clean house and truly start from scratch? And if they're going to do that, why not also jettison Darren McFadden, who enters the final year of his contract due more than $5.826 million and carries a salary cap number of more than $9.685 million and has yet to prove he can play a full season? In fact, heading into this offseason, the most expensive six contracts belonged to Richard Seymour, Palmer, Michael Huff, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Tommy Kelly and McFadden. Seymour, an unrestricted free agent, has played his last snap in Oakland, Palmer's future seems murky, and Huff, Heyward-Bey and Kelly have all been cut. Et tu, Run DMC?

raiders can't afford to miss or reach with the 3rd pick, if they do it could set them back further. (@Gonzalez4080)
And water is wet. No disrespect, because you Tweet the truth. I wrote last week about second-year general manager Reggie McKenzie's need to have a smart draft, or at least, a better one than Oakland had in the middle of the last decade. It is a poor stretch that has contributed to the current situation. Or did you not realize that of the 30 players the Raiders drafted from 2006 through 2009 only two -- TWO! -- of those players remain on Oakland's roster? Paging Darren McFadden and Tyvon Branch. And looking at the past three drafts, just 16 of the Raiders' 24 selections (counting 2011 supplemental pick Terrelle Pryor, the last drafted by Al Davis) will be around, after Rolando McClain hits the bricks. The feeling here is that McKenzie will trade out of the No. 3 spot to acquire more picks (the Raiders are without selections in the second and fifth rounds but have extras in the sixth and seventh rounds). And if he cannot find a viable trade partner, McKenzie then picks the best player available, which should be Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. Call it a hunch. Of course, we still have a month to go.

#Raiders will either trade down or draft an impact Def Lineman (@vshankar05)
What's that about great minds thinking alike and all that jazz? When you're drafting that high, you cannot afford to be selective and "draft for need," mostly because if you're drafting that high, you have a lot of needs. Meaning, you have to take the best player available. Tom Flores gave me that nugget, and I believe it. Thing is, if the Raiders do stand pat, they should have their choice of Sharrif Floyd, Star Lotulelei or Jarvis Jones, and still be able to address a need while choosing the best player available. Of course, at one time I thought Manti Te'o was earmarked for Oakland, then the Raiders also fell in love with offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher at the Senior Bowl. Then again, did you see how current Raiders left tackle Jared Veldheer has transformed himself into the Incredible Hulk thus far this offseason, or, as @mrlosik called him, "Gigantor?" I digress, but still…

if no one signs Raiders free agents, will Reggie get them on sale? (@PhxRaiderFan74)
Of course. But does Reggie want any of them? Think about it -- the Raiders had 17 unrestricted free agents when the new league year began on March 12, and even with an exclusive negotiating window, McKenzie did not re-sign any of them at the time. He did re-up right tackle Khalif Barnes later. Indeed, seven of the 17 UFAs have signed elsewhere, with leading tackler Philip Wheeler in Miami, co-leading sack artist Desmond Bryant in Cleveland, leading pass catcher Brandon Myers with the New York Giants, Matt Shaughnessy in Arizona, Mike Goodson with the New York Jets, Mike Mitchell in Carolina and Shane Lechler in Houston. So who's left? Try Cooper Carlisle, Andre Carter, Omar Gaither, Matt Giordano, Derek Hagan, Joselio Hanson, Matt Leinart, Richard Seymour and Shawntae Spencer. In no particular order, here's who I think are most likely to return -- Carter, Giordano, Hagan and Hanson. Mind you, I'm not advocating one way or the other, just an educated guess. And yes, with every passing day they remain on the market, their respective prices go down.

Take some Matt Leinart and some Mark Sanchez, mix for 4 years and you have a Matt Barkley. (@Oahu_Raider808)
How dare you, bruddah, forget to include a dash of John David Booty with a sprinkle of Mitch Mustain. Then, and only then, top it off with a pinch of Matt Cassel. Yes, we're talking USC quarterbacks and with Carson Palmer still the, ahem, incumbent, more than a few eyebrows were raised by Reggie McKenzie taking in Matt Barkley's workout in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Could he? Might he? Remember, Barkley was the Heisman Trophy front-runner at the start of the college season last summer. Then came the losses and the throwing shoulder injury and a season with Lane Kiffin. No doubt Barkley's draft stock has dropped but many see Barkley as a younger and cheaper Palmer, even if he's smaller. Then again, McKenzie was at USC to see players other than Barkley. But if the Raiders do trade back and have an early second-round pick and Barkley is still sitting there, does McKenzie strike? Mahalo for your question, er, statement.