BEREA - It had all the characteristics of a typical grandstand move by Al Davis, although he wasn't around to see it happen.
Less than two weeks after Davis passed away last year, the Oakland Raiders made a trade with the Cincinnati Bengals to acquire disgruntled quarterback Carson Palmer, who was in a lengthy holdout. Davis, who had been the Raiders managing partner, probably would have approved the deal in his hope to continue on with his "Just Win Baby" philosophy.
The Raiders paid dearly, giving up a first-round draft choice this year and a conditional second-round pick in 2013 that could become a first-round choice if the Raiders advanced to the AFC Championship Game in either the 2011 of 2012 seasons.
That's not happening, which casts a spotlight on the value of the trade for the Raiders. Now 3-8 and a loser of four straight games, Oakland's short- and long-term futures are bleak.
The Just Win Baby motto should be changed to "Let's Win Maybe."
"Any time you lose someone like Mr. Davis and for how long he had been around calling shots, there's always going to be a transition period, but this organization is in a great place with coach (Dennis) Allen," Palmer said. "He's an absolute rock. He hasn't changed one bit. He hasn't wavered one bit. He's fought through some adversity with this team and kept us hungry and kept us grinding.
"With Reggie McKenzie the general manager, there was such a drastic change that there are some ups and downs you have to figure out."
Palmer hasn't been the same since suffering a devastating knee injury in a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in January of 2006. He played five more seasons with the Bengals but was never able to recreate the magic he had in 2005, when he threw 32 touchdown passes and had a 101 passer rating.
Palmer will turn 33 on Dec. 27. It would be understandable to think that the Raiders are wondering if they still have a quarterback capable of leading them back to the playoffs.
"Carson will be the first to tell you that he needs to win," Smith said. "He's giving us the opportunity to win. That's what is most important to him."
The Browns should be expecting an active day for Palmer when the teams play Sunday in Oakland. The Raiders haven't had much success running the ball (82.6 yards a game), and the Browns haven't been allowing many yards on the ground (63 to the Dallas Cowboys and 55 to the Steelers).
"He's still capable of making every throw on the field," Browns middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said. "He has a great arm. It's a lot (that) goes into a season from a quarterback's standpoint. A lot of his games, he's been playing from behind, so it's forced him to do things that they don't want to do."
The good news for the Raiders is the return of running back Darren McFadden, who's been out with an injury. When healthy McFadden is one of the best backs in the NFL with his combination and power and speed.
"He's a huge talent," Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron. "You've got to have an edge on every defense, but he can outrun your force and still turn the corner and gain yards. You definitely don't want to see him in the open field."
In the end it might come down to how well the Browns can keep Palmer under control.
"I've always thought Carson Palmer was one of the better quarterbacks in the league, and he's showing that out there," Jauron said. "He's got outstanding numbers. He can win games. He's developing a relationship with his receivers, and it's obviously taking time. Even though he was there at the end of last year, it's a new system for him, and there is a lot of new this year for him that I'm sure he's got to work through."