In 2011, the Oakland Raiders began the season 4-2, inspiring thought of making the playoffs for the first time since 2002. After suffering through the questionable Al Davis era, there was a sense that 2011 would be a breakthrough year with first-year coach Hue Jackson having the most success out of any previous Raiders head coach. With starting quarterback Jason Campbell out with a collarbone injury for the foreseeable future, the Raiders went all-in on the 2011 season, acquiring Carson Palmer from the Cincinnati Bengals in exchange for two high future draft picks. Palmer and the Bengals had been through a saga of trade demands for the first few weeks of the season, with rookie Andy Dalton firmly in front of the depth chart playing ahead of long-time franchise face Palmer.
Palmer would have initial success with the Raiders, bringing them to a 7-4 record, before a late-season collapse, losing four of the last five games including a 38-26 home loss to the San Diego Chargers that eliminated the Raiders from playoff contention. Palmer’s late-season struggles continued into 2012 as the Raiders starting quarterback, as the team finished 4-12 in Palmer’s first and only season as the full-time starting quarterback. Palmer’s disappointing performance would subsequently lead to the Raiders trading him to the Arizona Cardinals in 2013.
For the Bengals side of things, the two draft picks turned out to be Dre Kirkpatrick in 2012 and Giovani Bernard in 2013. While Kirkpatrick has barely contributed while dealing with multiple injury issues, Bernard was a Offensive Rookie of the Year contender in 2013. Despite splitting time with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bernard finished the season with 1,209 total yards and eight touchdowns. With Green-Ellis not expected to be back with the Bengals next season, Bernard will get more of the workload. Bernard can be a true No. 1 running back in the NFL and will definitely be productive for the next five or so years at least.
Another impact the trade had on the Bengals was to move ahead with Dalton as the quarterback of the future. Dalton has led the Bengals to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons in the NFL. Without the distraction of Palmer threatening to retire in the background, Dalton has developed a chemistry with A.J. Green that makes the duo one of the most formidable quarterback-receiver pairings in the league.
Looking back on the trade, it’s easy to see that the Bengals have come out ahead. Palmer is no longer with the Raiders, and in 2013 Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin proved not to be the answer the team is looking for at quarterback. Thus, the Raiders will go into the 2014 NFL Draft still looking for a quarterback of the future. Jackson, who was fired as Raiders coach after not making the playoffs in 2011 despite the mid-season trade for Palmer, is now the offensive coordinator for the Bengals and will be looking to continue the Bengals’ recent success.
Bernard is quite possibly the best running back from his draft class and could be playing in Cincinnati for many years to come. All in all, the Raiders really did not gain anything from trading for Palmer other than more disappointment for their fans while the Bengals have set themselves up for a better future.