Palmer, Flynn moves make sense, but they're not guaranteed fixes
Two deals felt inevitable this morning: Carson Palmer to Arizona, Matt Flynn to Oakland. With the Flynn deal going down Monday morning, Palmer to the Cardinals should be next. The moves made too much sense not to happen. Sense, yes. Whether they'll solve problems in quarterback-needy places ... that's another issue. Palmer has a much better chance when it comes to raising Arizona than Flynn has to save Oakland.
Palmer to the Cardinals. It's likely Oakland gets a fourth- or fifth-round pick in return, and Palmer, 33, signs a deal commensurate with his recent performance but recognizing his chance for a revival playing for Bruce Arians and playing with Larry Fitzgerald. I understand why Palmer wouldn't take a financial haircut in Oakland: I wouldn't have either, knowing the Raiders were a short-term place and understanding if he held his ground, the Raiders might enable him to go to a place that fit him better.
A couple of things about this move that I like: Last year, I remember going to Indianapolis to write about the Colts when Arians was the interim coach. "I hate the West Coast Offense,'' Arians said. Arians wanted a big-armed quarterback stretching the defense, and it showed in Luck's numbers. In 2012, Luck had the second-longest average pass length in the league, 10.17 yards downfield. Match that with Palmer's desire to show he can be the big-armed thrower Arians needs. Believe me, Palmer chafes at the impression he doesn't have the arm he used to. In his first half-season with the Raiders, he was among the NFL's yards-per-attempt leaders, because coach Hue Jackson liked to stretch the defense.
Let's not be delusional about Palmer. You can't say he's a premier player anymore, but you also can't say he can't play. He threw for 4,018 yards, and his interception percentage (14 picks on 565 attempts, 2.5 percent) was lower than that of Drew Brees and Eli Manning. He wants to play the Arians way. I believe Arians is the best coach in the league for Palmer. I also believe Palmer wouild buy in totally to Arians' plan, and I hear he's excited about a chance in Arizona. A move would allow him to stay close to his southern California home, and to play in a system that wouldn't be a reach for his game. And Palmer would have the kind of reliable deep-threat receiver in Larry Fitzgerald that few quarterbacks have at their disposal.
Does that mean Arizona will contend? I doubt it sincerely. The leaky offensive line must be significantly better to give the immobile Palmer a chance to play well. But of all the quarterbacks on the market or in the 2013 draft, Palmer gives the Cardinals the best chance to be competitive as the fourth-best team in a suddenly very good NFC West.
Flynn to the Raiders. It appears this deal got done without Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie touching his 2013 draft, and that's good (the Raiders will send 2014 and '15 picks to Seattle for Flynn). The Raiders have only three picks in the top five rounds -- third, 66th and 100th overall. Then they have a 71-pick drought before choosing again, in the sixth round. According to Jay Glazer, both picks the Seahawks are getting come from the later rounds.
It's a smart move for Oakland, even if it's risky; Flynn has started only two games in the NFL. One was a colossal performance as he threw for a franchise-record six touchdowns against Detroit on the final Sunday of the 2011 regular season. It was against Detroit, granted. Awful secondary. And you can't overpay based on that game against a toasted secondary. But a mid-round pick and the prospect of a low-round conditional choice is not overpaying for Flynn, who McKenzie helped scout before the 2008 draft.
Put yourself in McKenzie's shoes. You can pay a quarterback you're not sold on, Palmer, $13 million this year, another year the cap is so tight it's squeezing every position group on the roster. Or you can pay Matt Flynn $5.25 million in salary, not knowing if he's going to be your quarterback of the future but knowing he's got a better chance than anyone on your current roster.
Put yourself in Seattle GM John Schneider's shoes. Do you want your confirmed backup quarterback taking up $7.25 million on your cap this year? Or do you trust your offensive coordinator and quarterback guru, Darrell Bevell, to train another guy to back up Russell Wilson? I'll take the latter choice any day of the week.
Finally, what are the chances Flynn becomes Oakland's answer at quarterback? Thirty percent, maybe? That's about 25 points higher than Palmer, with his salary, which the Raiders just weren't going to live with. I can't sit here and say the Raiders will get themselves a great player. I can sit here and say the Raiders are taking an intelligent calculated risk for the right price.
So what does this do to the draft?
Arizona with Palmer. Oakland with Flynn. And, on Friday, Buffalo with the signing of Kevin Kolb to a two-year contract. Teams with major quarterback needs are making moves.
I believe the Cardinals are now out of the first-round quarterback market. I think Oakland could still take one, with only three potential impact picks in this draft, but I think it's likely Oakland looks elsewhere at No. 3 overall. Buffalo? The Bills could do anything at No. 8, including taking a long-term prospect at quarterback like West Virginia's Geno Smith.
I talked to one personnel man Sunday (sorry for the Easter phone call) who presented this scenario to me: "I think what these deals do -- if they happen -- is impact the tackle market more than the quarterback market."
Smart thinking. His point: Arizona is desperate to shore up the offensive line; left tackle was a wasteland between D'Anthony Batiste and Nate Potter last year. Buffalo could use a bookend tackle to play opposite Cordy Glenn. Oakland has a lot of holes, and I doubt it would choose a tackle that high. But McKenzie is a value drafter, and if he loves Eric Fisher or Lane Johnson, the two top tackles after prospective top pick Luke Joeckel, he'll pick one.
The tackle market at the top of the first round is going to be on fire. I will be surprised if Joeckel, Fisher and Johnson aren't taken in the first 11 picks. San Diego is 11th.
Want to see an NFL record for teams trying to trade down? Tune in to this draft.
Gil Brandt has been visiting colleges to scout players since 1958. That season, around the middle of the year, he dropped into Purdue while working for the Rams to scout the seniors, and a coach said to him, "Gosh, Gil, you're the third scout we've had in this year.'' As if that were some sort of big number. Brandt laughed about it Saturday. "Now,'' he said, "a normal day in the fall would be seven scouts at a place like Purdue.'' Brandt said 16 teams showed up at Louisiana-Lafayette's Pro Day, and 23 at Louisiana Tech's. "Scouting used to be a one-story motel out in the country,'' Brandt said. "Now it's the Sears Tower. And growing." With the latest twist being jacked-up budgets for psychological testing; the next frontier, if you listen to Brandt.
And so what has all this information mining told Brandt about the 2013 draft?
"A totally unique draft,'' he said. "I don't think when we look at this draft five years from now that we'll have as many Pro Bowlers in the top 10 than you had in either of the last two drafts. Like, I think if Ryan Tannehill were in this draft, he'd be the top pick -- and he was [eighth] last year. Here's how I'd put it: Between 11 and 50, there's a lot of good players. But they're very close between 11 and 50. And I'd say if you took the 45th player in 2013, he'd be slightly better than the 45th player in 2012. That's the strength of this draft -- the depth.''
Why I see the stalled Revis-to-Tampa deal as inevitable.
The Jets are in deep think mode over the possible trade of the rehabbing Darrelle Revis. And though it's certainly tough to consider trading the best player on your team -- and it's a deal I wouldn't do; I would pay the man -- I think at the end of the day the Jets will do it at least two days before the start of the April 25 first round. (Can't be on draft day, obviously, because the Bucs will need to do a thorough physical exam before agreeing to the deal, which is likely to contain one 2013 draft choice.)
The Jets could do the right thing and satisfy Revis' long-term contract demands and have the best corner in the league (at least the best one east of Seattle, if Richard Sherman is to be believed) on their team through the rest of his prime. But no one sees owner Woody Johnson agreeing to pay Revis $15 million or so per year. Johnson, I'm hearing, is categorically against extending Revis. So let's extrapolate.
The Bucs, assuming Revis passes the physical, are willing to surrender a first-round pick and either a second- or a third- to acquire Revis. Those picks would either come both in 2013 or 2014, or one in each draft.
If Revis leaves in free-agency -- the Jets cannot franchise him after the 2013 season, by contract agreement -- the most the Jets would get is a likely third-round compensatory draft pick.
So what would you rather have, Jets fans:
• Revis on your team for one rebuilding season, getting the 97th overall pick in 2015, or ...
• Revis dumped for, say, Tampa Bay's first-round pick this month -- the 13th pick in 2013 -- and Tampa's second-rounder in 2014. If it's mid-round, that'd be the 48th overall pick in 2014.
One pick, 25 months from now, between the third and fourth rounds? Or two picks in the next 13 months, both likely in the top 50?
Tweetup time in Arizona.
I'll be running (okay, slowly jogging) Pat's Run, the 4.2-mile race in Tempe, Ariz., that honors the memory of the late Pat Tillman, the Cardinals safety who left the lucrative life of the NFL after 9/11 to serve in Afghanistan and was tragically killed on duty in Afghanistan in 2004. And the night before the race, I'm going to host a Tweetup along with some Cardinals. The details:
What: Peter King's Pre-Pat's Run Tweetup, hosted by @AZCardinals.
When: Friday, April 19, 5-7 p.m.
Where: Tom's Tavern, 2 N. Central Ave., downtown Phoenix ...
Admission: $40, which includes two drink tickets, food (pasta stations, to get prospective runners ready for Saturday morning's race) and a football panel. All of the $40 will go directly to the Tillman Military Scholars program.
The panel: I'll be joined by new Cards coach Bruce Arians, GM Steve Keim, club president Michael Bidwill and a couple of other guests TBA. We'll have a panel discussion, and attendees will be able to ask questions and get autographs and photos.
The goal: To raise at least $10,000 for the Tillman Military Scholars. Our goal is to fund one student -- a returning veteran, or the spouse of a veteran -- for one semester at one of 16 universities used by the Scholars. The program has invested $3.2 million in sending 230 scholars to college.
Ticket limit: There will be 250 tickets sold. Call 602.379.0102 to obtain them, or visit Cardinal box office locations. Tickets ordered by April 6 will be mailed to buyers. Tickets ordered after that can be picked up at the tavern the night of the event.
Auction: We'll have some auction items, many of them Cardinal-centric, but also a Peyton Manning autographed football.
Looking forward to seeing all of you there that night.
Also, for those looking to contribute to the cause of the legacy of education for veterans and their families, which was so important to Pat Tillman, I'll have information for you next Monday.
"The thing about the draft no one's found out how to measure yet -- and it's hard, and they're trying -- is a lot of college guys, when they make money, they stop working the way they worked before they got the money. The way this works, whatever you did last year to get good, you've got to do more now to stay good. And that's how a lot of players fall off. They don't learn that."
-- Longtime NFL scout and current NFL.com draft czar Gil Brandt, 80, to me on Saturday, discussing the science of drafting.
"More than anything, it was just the opportunity to spend the rest of my career with a team you know is going to win and win big and win pretty soon. And that to me was exciting.''
-- Tony Romo, to DallasCowboys.com, after signing a contract extension Friday that will average $17 million a year over six years.
"The last couple years, I've had to battle through some injuries and it definitely wasn't ideal, but I think I battled through them well. Now, honestly, this is the best I've felt in years, maybe ever. I'm just excited to get back to my old self and to be feeling healthy and strong.''
-- New Rams left tackle Jake Long, last Thursday.
"At best he'll be a post-draft signing, but if I were to guess, I think his career is over."
-- SiriusXM NFL Radio host Pat Kirwan, on Brandon Jacobs and the precipitous decline of his career.
Classic case of a player overplaying his hand, if you ask me.
"I lived a lifestyle like 90 percent of ballplayers. You sat around and had six beers after a game, went to dinner and had another six, and then guys are calling you to a bar where you're drinking more.''
-- San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Scott Proctor, talking about the change in baseball clubhouse drinking from ample to nearly nonexistent, to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
For his 14 starts, 17 touchdown throws and 83.2 passer rating in two Arizona seasons, Kevin Kolb made $20.5 million.
Add the $12 million Kolb made his last year in Philly (2-3 in five starts), and you've got a pretty nice way to make a living. A pretty battered way too: Kolb's been beaten up regularly over the last three years.
Aaron Rodgers has 19 more career touchdown passes than Bart Starr.
Rodgers' single-season career low in touchdown passes, in five starting years: 28.
Starr's single-season career high in touchdown passes, in 14 part- to full-time starting years: 16.
Final Four contestant Wichita State is 4-0 in the NCAA Tournament, including a six-point win over the No. 1 team in the country, Gonzaga. Wichita State was 0-2 versus Evansville this year.
Syracuse, also in the Final Four, went 4-5 in the last three weeks before the tournament.
La Salle, of Philadelphia, flew from Philadelphia to Dayton, then from Dayton to Kansas City, then from Kansas City to Los Angeles, playing four games in three time zones in nine days.
Louisville, of Louisville, bused 77 miles to Lexington for the first two games of the tournament, bused home, then bused 112 miles to Indianapolis to the next two games of the tournament.
Food in Seattle. Underrated, and it has been for the last few years. Pizza, especially. Serious Pie has become a can't-miss stop whenever I am in town. Serious Pie believes the more olive oil the better, and I'm on board with that. I just had a great evening at Elemental Pizza in University Village last Wednesday (see "Beernerdness'' below), with a terrific thin crust pie. And a year or so ago, I sampled Ballard Pizza; a little thick for my taste, but good crust nonetheless, and terrific tomato sauce.
It's not just coffee anymore. Seattle's my favorite pizza town.
"What else were cowboys going to do than work out a deal w qb Tony Romo? Tell me 3 other VIABLE alternatives better than Romo.''
-- @alex_flanagan of NFL Network and NBC Sports.
What she said.
"Btw peeps are arguably the worst candy/snack/sugar ever. I mean they are utterly disgusting to me. But please enjoy''
-- @SimplyAJ10, Baltimore center fielder Adam Jones, on Easter Sunday morning, on the marshmallowy Easter treat, Peeps.
What he said.
"Wichita State to the Final 4. Didn't even receive a single point in either preseason poll. Wow."
-- @BFeldmanCBS, college guru Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports.
"As a pro athlete I'm required at least once a month to tell all of my followers when I wake up and how hard I'm going to work out today."
-- @A_Train_92, Jacksonville defensive lineman Austen Lane.
1. I think I like Kevin Kolb as a Bill, but if he thinks Doug Marrone is done acquiring passers, he's crazy. Still think the Bills pick a quarterback in the first or second round of the draft.
2. I think I'd love to hear what Chip Kelly says to his players on the first day of a very different era for the Philadelphia Eagles. This is the week new coaches can begin to work with their players. Established coaches get their players in-house -- for voluntary conditioning -- two weeks from today.
3. I think, for those of you who, like me, can't get through a draft season without Mel Kiper's blue soft-cover book scouting the college prospects, enjoy this year's. It might be the last, as much as it pains me to say it. ESPN may have Kiper in Bristol more next year, and he may not be able to spend as much time as he needs to publish the book.
I love the book. I'll never forget some of the memorable stuff he's had in there. I remember a month before the 2004 draft how he called Nate Kaeding, the kicker, to San Diego in the third round of the draft, and it happened. I remember how he liked a free-agent prospect in the same draft. Welker. Wes Welker. I appreciate his effusiveness and effort -- and his honesty. Remember when the Colts picked Trev Alberts over Trent Dilfer in the first round in 1994. "Typical Colts move,'' he said. "That's why the Colts are picking second in the draft every year, not battling for the Super Bowl.'' And this memorable retort from then-GM Bill Tobin of the Colts: "Who in the hell is Mel Kiper? My neighbor has more credentials than Mel Kiper, and my neighbor's a postman.'' That was good TV. Reconsider, Mel. Please. Keep that book coming.
4. I think Mike Shanahan would agree with you, President Obama, when it comes to Robert Griffin III. Seems when the president and the quarterback met at the regional final in Washington Saturday, Obama told Griffin to protect himself. Good thought.
5. I think the Texans might want to keep J.J. Watt (five batting-practice homers, throwing a 73-mph first pitch Sunday night) away from the Astros, lest they get any ideas about the closer prospect/cleanup hitter in the midst of their massive rebuilding.
6. I think the agents for Andre Smith are making it very clear to the Bengals, and to the rest of the league: The offer Cincinnati has on the table for Smith stinks (in the mind of agent and player), and the door is open for some team to come in and steal him. Listening, Arizona?
7. I think it didn't get noticed at the league meeting, but it should: Saints owner Tom Benson gave a short valedictory address of sorts to the league's Finance Committee members, resigning after more than two decades on the important league committee. He also left two other league committees, the Audit Committee and Compensation Committee. I'm told it has nothing to do with any bitterness over the bounty penalties. It was simply time. At 85, he doesn't want to take time with NFL committee business.
8. I think I'm one who thinks Hue Jackson, one day, should get another chance to be a head coach. But it's tough to forget his big decision in Oakland, which will haunt his resume forever, trading first- and second-round draft choices to Cincinnati for a "retired" quarterback, Carson Palmer. Making the Raiders competitive should certainly be a factor in the plus column for Jackson. The Palmer trade, which he engineered, is a killer.
9. I think there were a lot of sad people around the NFL over the weekend, after the death Saturday of longtime Alabama athletic director Mal Moore was announced. He died of pulmonary disease at a North Carolina hospital at 73. Remember late in Nick Saban's second season, 2006, when there were so many rumors that wouldn't go away, about Saban going to coach Alabama? Moore was convinced he wanted Saban, and so he flew to south Florida and went straight to Saban's house -- rumor has it without Saban's permission -- and sat talking with Saban's wife, Terry, while her husband was at the Dolphins' offices, still an NFL coach. Moore worked on Terry Saban, then on Nick, and he got what he wanted: three national championships over the past four seasons.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. "Shame on us if we've forgotten [Newtown],'' the president said the other day, talking about stalled legislation on tougher background checks for gun buyers. Shame on all of us.
b. Happy baseball season. Six months of box scores! Good times.
c. And welcome to the American League, Houston. Good choice, even though it's a death wish in that AL West right now. The Houston-Texas rivalry's going to be good, in time.
d. Reds radio voice Marty Brennaman starts his 40th season in the Cincinnati booth today, with a Game 1 interleague affair against Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. That has to feel odd, Marty. Very good announcer, very good man.
e. Give me Tampa Bay, Detroit and Texas (Jays, Angels as the Wild Cards) in the AL, and Philadelphia, St. Louis and Arizona (Nats, Reds as the Wild Cards) in the NL. In a World Series Don Banks would love, Reds over Rays. Banks is from Rays-land, and he loved the Reds as a kid. In fact, he stunned Al Michaels at the league meetings a couple of weeks ago by reciting a Michaels call of a Johnny Bench home run verbatim.
f. Love this stat from ESPNBoston's Gordon Edes, via the Red Sox's 2013 media guide: "In 2005, Clay Buchholz was selected with the draft pick the Red Sox received when Pedro Martinez left the Sox and signed as a free agent with the New York Mets. So far, Buchholz is 46-32 with a 3.92 ERA in 107 starts. After leaving the Sox, Pedro was 37-24 with a 3.86 ERA in 88 starts for the Mets and Phillies.''
g. I'm a firm believer that the only people who care about your fantasy team is the owner of said fantasy team. But this is the baseball team I drafted the other night (and I've had better): Buster Posey catcher, Mike Napoli first, Dustin Pedroia second, Acides Escobar short, Kevin Youkilis third, Jay Bruce, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mark Trumbo in the outfield, Lance Berkman the DH (with David Ortiz on the bench. Rotation: Jordan Zimmerman, Matt Moore, Jarrod Parker and Johnny Cueto. 'Pen: Jonathan Papelbon, Rafael Soriano, Phil Coke (Jason Motte on the DL). Hope springs eternal, but Trumbo and Bruce had better combine for 75 jacks or I'm in trouble.
h. I salute you, Penguins. Fifteen games in March, a 15-0-0 record. How about their final three games of the month -- 1-0, 4-0 and 2-0 shutouts. In seven of the wins last month, they scored 7, 6, 5, 5, 4, 4, and 4 goals. Pretty tough to beat a prolific team with two good goalies.
i. Of course, only one team has multiple wins over the Pens this year. Right: those pesky Devils. Or should I say, the not-clutch Devils, after blowing leads in the final 30 seconds of regulation twice in Florida over the weekend and losing to the Lightning and Panthers. Not good.
j. My heart goes out to Kevin Ware, the Louisville guard who suffered that horrifying broken leg Sunday. What a terrible tragedy. I know that we all wish him good luck in his recovery.
k. I couldn't make it to the end (even halftime) of the late NCAA Tournament games. Duke's game eight days ago began at 9:45 p.m.; tipoff Friday night was at 10. "Ask your questions quick,'' Mike Krzyzewski said after the win over Michigan State Friday night. Or, rather, Saturday morning. His press conference after the game in Indianapolis started at 12:44 a.m. "We've got a game tomorrow -- literally. It's Saturday already.'' The team bus left the arena after 1 a.m ... and the coach and five starters had to be back in the building less than 12 hours later for a mandatory NCAA press conference.
l. The NFL's a slave to TV; we know that. The NCAA is right there.
m. Tremendous job, Yankees, with the trip to West Point to play the Army baseball team Saturday. Class job all the way, with Andy Pettitte and Mark Teixeira in the Army dugout with the players during the game, Joba Chamberlain in the bleachers with the cadets. Great to see.
n. As you know, I'm no NBA guy. But when Kobe Bryant passes Wilt Chamberlain on the NBA's all-time scoring list, well, that's worth an MMQB shout-out. I really admire Bryant, playing through injury and showing such a great will to win. He's like Derek Jeter.
o. Well, Louisville eliminating Baylor shows there's more balance in the women's game than I thought. I owe the women's game a slight mea culpa, though it's still nowhere near the level playing field of the men's game. Great coaching plan by Louisville, limiting Brittney Griner's touches all night.
p. What gall by Steve Alford. Ten days after agreeing to a 10-year contract to stay as coach of New Mexico, and 10 days after the university issued a press release quoting Alford as saying, "There is no other place I would rather coach than at UNM,'' Alford jumped to UCLA to coach the Bruins. At least pretend like the words coming out of your mouth are the truth, Steve.
q. Many layers to the story. First, it takes two to tango. If colleges put some teeth in these one-way contracts -- which are 100 percent slanted to the coaches, usually with limited buyouts in them -- then we wouldn't see such shams.
r. The college basketball defenders say, "Well, he hadn't signed the contract yet.'' Bull. He agreed to terms with the university, gave quotes to the university PR department for the issuance of a release saying he agreed to a new 10-year contract, and did so freely. I know college coaches leave all the time. But who makes a deal for a decade and then takes the first bus out of town?
s. Now, many of you on Twitter said Alford just did what you do in America when you have leverage. You use it. Scores of you said, in effect, writers jump to different papers and magazines and TV places all the time. True. We do. But most writers work for papers and magazines without contracts. I never had a contract at my two newspapers jobs, nor for the first several years I worked at SI. With no contract, you're free to go at a moment's notice. And the college coaching contracts are so weak and one-sided that they mock the word "contract."
t. Coffeenerdness: Why I want to be James Freeman when I grow up.
u. Beernerdness: I owe Steve Rosen, the co-owner of Elemental Pizza in Seattle's University Village, a huge thanks. I had my rotisserie league baseball draft Wednesday night, and I was in Seattle while the other 11 guys in the league were in New Jersey, and buddy Sam Farmer hooked me up with Steve, who gave me a table with power outlets and wifi to do my draft. And I have to thank Steve for something else: having Manny's Pale Ale on tap. That's only one of my five favorite beers in the world -- fresh, crisp, lighter than most pales I've had, very malty. And the pizza ... Steve, you're on to something. Good music in the house too.
v. Joe Mauer turns 30 in 18 days. Where'd the time go?
w. One of the best parts of my radio mornings: Listening to StoryCorps, the stories of ordinary Americans living compelling lives, on National Public Radio.
x. Best wishes and recovery well, Will Carroll. Will, who is a very good man, had a heart attack, and tells me he's doing well.
y. Hope you all had a happy Easter. Now if we can just do something about getting spring to start.
Trade Flynn to Oak-town!
That's right: All we are saying
is give Matt a chance.