Back in January of 2011, the Cincinnati Bengals were on the brink of disaster. Coming off of a debacle of a season where high expectations crashed into a 4-12 record, head coach Marvin Lewis' contract expired and the direction of the team was in question.
After a game of tug-of-war between Lewis and owner Mike Brown, the coach signed a contract to remain with the club. The new contract came with mixed emotions from fans and it also didn't seem to sit well with their "franchise quarterback". Shortly after the contract, word leaked that Palmer wanted out of Cincinnati. So much so, that he threatened retirement if the Bengals didn't trade him.
Brown, set in his ways, wasn't willing to cave into Palmer's demands. There were meetings between the two parties at Paul Brown Stadium, and while they were amicable, Palmer's stance didn't change. The offseason rolled on and the Bengals invested a high second round pick in another quarterback--Andy Dalton.
And then, fate stepped in.
In October, the Oakland Raiders were in the middle of a promising start under new head coach, Hue Jackson. Unfortunately, Jackson lost his starting quarterback, Jason Campbell, to a season-ending collarbone injury. Jackson, knowing how quickly the Raiders organization cycled through coaches, pleaded their front office to make a move for a quarterback.
In a stunning move of desperation, the Raiders offered their '12 first round pick as well as another conditional pick that became a second round pick in '13. The Bengals accepted the offer and Palmer was shipped to the Bay Area. He restructured his contract, but still landed a lucrative deal with the silver and black. The Raiders stumbled to an 8-8 finish, which took them out of the playoffs and Jackson was fired after the season. Palmer started for the Raiders once again in '12 and led them to a deplorable 4-12 finish.
Though his stats weren't necessarily that bad, Palmer was asked to take a pay cut in the rebuilding process that is commencing in Oakland. He refused and then asked to be traded once again. He was dealt to the Arizona Cardinals where his career appears to have stabilized for a final-run.
The Bengals selected cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick at No.17 overall with the Raiders' 2012 first round selection, and running back Giovani Bernard with the Raiders' 2013 second round selection. To top it off, Marvin Lewis was able to lure Jackson back to Cincinnati as an assistant coach, eventually becoming Cincinnati's offensive coordinator. Pretty sweet deal, right?
The implications and overall value on paper would point to this being the best player trade in the history of the team. When you trade your franchise quarterback away, start over as a club and get high picks in the deal, it's worth it.
On the other hand, judgement is still being rendered here. Kirkpatrick has played sparingly on defense after spending his rookie season recovering from an ailing knee. Bernard has had tremendous moments, obviously.