Carson Palmer was intrinsically linked to Hue Jackson, what with the former Raiders coach engineering the trade-deadline deal that brought the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback to Oakland from Cincinnati.But with Jackson now excised from the picture, where does that leave Palmer, who was acquired for a first-round draft pick this April and a conditional second-rounder in 2013?Palmer has not replied to messages.But new general manager Reggie McKenzie said in his Tuesday introductory media conference that Palmer will return -- he still has three years remaining on his reported 7.5-million guaranteed contract, with 5 million of the 12.5 million due him in 2012 guaranteed -- but added that the gig was not a given."Competition will be at every position," McKenzie said. "No one is going to have a job handed to them. You don't get better that way."We'll find good players to compete with the good players that we have, every day. So, Carson Palmer will not be immune to a good player behind him pushing him. That's how you get better."Jackson's departure, along with McKenzie's words, also potentially leaves open the door for Jason Campbell to return, seeing as how Jackson would not have wanted a potential distraction with a QB controversy. After all, Palmer was Jackson's guy after Campbell went down with a broken right collarbone on Oct. 16.And Campbell, who would no doubt have backing from the likes of receiversgroomsmen Jacoby Ford and Louis Murphy, has said all along that he considers himself a starter. Still, Campbell is a looming free agent and Palmer is under contract.Then there's Green Bay backup Matt Flynn, who threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns with an interception on 31 of 44 passing in the Packers' 45-41 defeat of Detroit in Week 17. Flynn will also be a free agent and McKenzie, the former Packers director of football operations, has already gone on record as saying he wants "his" guys in the house when talking about firing Jackson.Of course, this is all before McKenzie hires a head coach, though he was asked his thoughts on the mega-trade for the semi-retired Palmer, who came off his couch to start nine games for the Raiders.McKenzie smiled."No. 1, as a personnel guy, I love my picks," he said. "More, I love good players. Now, bringing in Carson at the time the Raiders brought him in, to me, as a player, that's a good move. You have to get players that can help you win games. Now, did the position of the situation present itself favorably for Cincinnati? Absolutely. But you do what you have to do. That's just the way it is, the cost of doing business."You're trying to help your team win. You can't put parameters from a standpoint of knowing the possibility was not as good, on the other hand. But as far as Carson Palmer is concerned, I think he's a good quarterback. Period."In extrapolating his stats from his nine starts over a full 16-game season and they come out to 4,688 passing yards with 23 touchdowns and 23 interceptions on a 62.6 percent completion rate. His 417 passing yards in the season finale against San Diego were the third-most in franchise history.Still, owner Mark Davis admitted he might have had second thoughts about the dealbut would do it all again."Yeah, I probably would," Davis said. "Again, I signed off on that deal. It wouldn't have happened without Hue Jackson because, first off, (Carson) wasn't on my mind."The injury to Jason happened, my father's funeral was the next day, then the trading deadline was at 1 o'clock the next day. So the timing and everythingHue got it going and everything and then came to me and said, 'I can do it, we can get this done.'"The Bengals had initially said they would never trade Palmer."The price was high," Davis added. "And Ken Herock came in and helped a little bit in the negotiations on that, and got the price (down), at least if we don't get to the (AFC) championship game it's down to a second-round draft pick. And if Ken would've had about three more hours, they probably would've been giving us draft choices and say, 'Take the guy.'"Davis laughed."But I definitely signed off on that and I still sign off," he said. "I like Carson Palmer, I really do. And I think with Darren McFadden and some of those receivers that were hurt -- his receivers were hurt a lot -- I think he's got a chance to be pretty good."Even in Oakland. Even in 2012. At least, for now.
ALAMEDA – Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. has a good feel for Tom Brady. He faced New England’s legendary quarterback three times as Seattle’s linebackers coach, with some positive results. The Seahawks won two regular-season games and lost the Super Bowl at the last second.
He knows what worked then, and believes that should help prepare the Raiders defense for what’s coming Sunday in Mexico City.
“I played Brady a couple years ago in the Super Bowl with Seattle. We played very well against him,” Norton said Thursday afternoon. “I’ve had some success against him so I have a good feel for what can be done and what cannot be done. It’s just a matter of having the right emphasis and the ability to make the plays.
“Having a guy like (Brady) on the team who’s capable at any point of throwing a deep ball, capable at any point of getting it to the right players at the right time. He understands who is around him. He understands how to get the ball to the guys. He’s got a long resume of doing it well.”
Having success against Brady, however, is a relative term. He still produced against a loaded Seattle defense far better than this year’s Raiders unit. He will produce again Sunday, even if most goes right. Limitation, however, if key.
Norton believes certain things are essential when facing a Patriots team. Sure tackling. Impacting the quarterback.
The first is vital, something the Raiders have done well save a Week 9 win over Miami. The Raiders have to limit explosives and keep the ball in front of them, especially with the way Brady likes to play.
“The Patriots do a really good job of underneath coverage,” Norton said. “They have guys that catch and run really well. The backs, the tight ends, the matchups underneath, they catch and make people miss. They try to match up with your linebackers and safeties. They feel like their guys are pretty good. Tackling is something we’ve been really outstanding with all year but this last game against Miami we didn’t do so well and it kind of stands out, especially when it’s something we’ve taken a lot of pride in.
“I really feel like our emphasis and what we do well matches up well with that they try to do.”
There are some problem spots. One is limiting deep shots, something Brady has unleashed with startling efficiency. He’s 19-for47 for 410 yards and four touchdowns on passes of 20-plus yards, with speedsters Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett able to haul them in. The Raiders have proven vulnerable to track-star receivers.
Impacting Brady is mandatory, but also difficult given his excellent pocket presence. He’s especially good at feeling pressure off the edge, where reigning defensive player of the year Khalil Mack typically lines up opposite Bruce Irvin.
Brady has proven vulnerable to interior pressure, which is why Mario Edwards Jr. will be an X-factor on passing downs. He has four sacks this season and needs to break free in the backfield to force difficult decisions or, at the very lest, disrupt New England’s timing.
Brady gets rid of the ball fast at times. Raiders rushers can’t get frustrated by that, especially Mack.
“If the quarterback is going to throw the ball in less than two seconds, it’s going to be tough to get there,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “So when the quarterback is throwing the ball quick like that, we’ve got to tackle and have their punt team come out. They’ll get tired of punting or turning the ball over and they’ll sit and hold the ball a little bit and Khalil can get there. If they’re throwing the ball in two seconds or less, it’s going to be hard to get sacks.”
The Raiders only have 13 sacks this season, second worst in the NFL. Getting a few could swing a tight game. Norton’s Raiders believe they have a solid plan to mitigate somewhat the Patriots ferocious attack, that features versatile tight ends allowing them to do different things from one personnel package.
Don’t expect a shutout, or anything close. The Raiders understand that, but believe they can mitigate some damage.
“If you go back to the New England Patriots five, six, eight years ago they’re doing similar things,” Norton said. “They do what they do really well. They’re a fine-tuned machine. Everybody knows exactly what their role is. Guys know exactly what’s expected of them. Obviously the quarterback is the heart and soul and the one that makes that train run. Really, really good players that really understand what their role is and play well against leverage, run after catch, tough and they make plays.”
The Raiders gave quarterback Derek Carr a massive contract extension last June. Right guard Gabe Jackson got paid later that month.
Khalil Mack’s big deal is coming, likely this offseason. Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie anticipates a deal getting done, and hopes Mack’s agent feels the same way.
Mack’s rep and Raiders contract folks will work out details of a massive contract extension. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year doesn’t have interest in all that. He has one preference above all.
Mack doesn’t want to go anywhere. He wants to stay with the Raiders long term.
“Of course. That’s not even a question,” Mack said in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Fallon Smith, which airs in this week's episode of "Raiders Central." “That’s a no-brainer for me, especially when you think about coming into this organization and try to build something special, that’s something you want to be a part of for a lifetime”
Mack has plenty of money, top-5 overall draft picks often do. The No. 5 selection in 2014 considered that first deal life-changing money, enough to help his family.
“That has been a treat for me so far,” Mack said.
He doesn’t daydream about signing a nine-figure contract. He doesn’t long to be the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player (although that might be in the cards, anyway).
“I’m not really even thinking about that,” Mack said. “I’m thinking about the Patriots, that’s just my focus that’s just my mindset – anybody who talked to me about that matter, whether it be my best friend, my mom, my dad, I tell them the same thing. I’m thinking about the Patriots and sacking Tom Brady.”
That, unlike signing a record contract, was a career a goal. Mack said in a post-draft press conference he wanted to sack legends. Peyton Manning and Brady topped the list.
Manning retired before Mack could check his box. Mack will have a second chance at Brady Sunday when the Raiders play New England in Mexico City. He had eight tackles and two quarterback hits against Brady’s Patriots in 2014, but didn’t bring the quarterback down.
Mack considered his third regular season game a welcome-to-the-NFL moment.
The University of Buffalo alum has accomplished a ton since then, with 34.5 sacks and last year’s top defensive honor to his credit. He’ll need a Herculean performance against the Patriots to help the Raiders win a pivotal game. A sack would certainly help, but Mack isn’t calling his shot.
“Yeah, I’m not one to talk,” Mack said. “I’ll express that when I get on the field, but I can’t wait, I can’t wait to play against him.”