A line has apparently been drawn in the sand.
It has been assumed for weeks now that Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer will have to take a paycut from the $13 million base salary he is due for the 2013 season to not only give Oakland some salary cap breathing room, but to remain on the team. But according to ESPN, it is now "highly unlikely Palmer will be willing to restructure his contract," which would mean Palmer is either paid the $13 million...or he is cut.
Of course, nothing is so black and white in the NFL. Notice the insertion of the phrase "restructure" in the report. To restructure Palmer would mean to extend his contract. And the Raiders probably do not want to extend the contract of a quarterback who just turned 33 and is already under contract through the 2016 season.
Still, the final two years of Palmer's deal void if he is still on the Raiders' roster five days after the Super Bowl in February, 2015.
And remember, Palmer, acquired by Hue Jackson in October of 2011 for what turned out to be a first-round and second-round draft choice, already restructured last season, playing the 2012 season for the veteran's minimum of $825,000 as his base salary. Palmer responded by becoming only the second quarterback in Raiders history to eclipse 4,000 yards passing (he had 4,018 yards through the air) on a 61.1 completion percentage (his second-best since 2007) and had 22 touchdowns (also his second-most since '07) and 14 interceptions (the third-fewest of his career in which he's played in at least 13 games) with a QB rating of 85.3 (his highest since '07) in 14-plus games.
Palmer's season ended early on an illegal spear from Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy that left Palmer with cracked ribs and a bruised lung and unable to travel to San Diego for the season finale.
Still, the Raiders staggered to the finish line with a 4-12 record after consecutive 8-8 finishes and many see cutting Palmer as another move in general manager Reggie McKenzie's complete overhaul of the roster he inherited.
"Not sure what's going to happen," Palmer said in an email to CSNBayArea.com earlier this month. "Would love to be back in Oakland and compete."
While cutting Palmer would save the Raiders $5.995 million against the cap for 2013, he would still count as $9.334 million in dead money. Plus, Oakland would have no experience under center, Terrelle Pryor's one start against the Chargers notwithstanding, unless the Raiders went out and signed another quarterback.
Palmer is due base salaries of $15 million in each of the 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons with cap numbers of $17.335 million in each as well. Keep in mind, though, the final two years voiding, as noted above.
As many have noted, Palmer was not the Raiders' problem last season, in fact, he was the team's MVP in this corner, but he is probably not the answer for their future, either.