Carson Palmer is unwilling to take a pay cut from the Oakland Raiders despite a massive $13 million cap hit this season, while the Raiders are finalizing a trade for Matt Flynn with the Seattle Seahawks. The Raiders would save $6 million in cap space by releasing Palmer, who quite clearly does not want to be in Oakland anymore. After running out on Cincinnati in similar fashion.
It didn't take long for the rumor mill to get started. Ian Rapoport mentioned the Arizona Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as possible landing spots on NFL Network, while Alex Marvez sees the Bucs as an intriguing possibility. Meanwhile, Mike Garafolo of USA Today claims that the Cardinals and 49ers are at the top of the quarterback's wishlist and Jason LaCanfora tweets that the Cardinals are even nearing a deal with Palmer, perhaps making all of this speculation moot.
Given the fact that Palmer wants to go to a contender, the Buccaneers may not be an immediately obvious landing spot. He'd be a backup, though he'd have no trouble playing the backup role supposedly, but the question is whether he views the Bucs as real contenders. And whether he'd be willing to move to the East Coast after going to the Raiders specifically because he wanted to be on the West Coast.
Still, there are three reasons why the Buccaneers would want Palmer to be a Buccaneer next season.
1) The Bucs have repeatedly talked about competition at the quarterback competition
They aren't looking to replace Josh Freeman, mind you, but they do want to provide some competition at every position. Dan Orlovsky is not real competition: he will never push Freeman for a starting job. He's not a bad backup, but that's all he'll ever be: a backup. Carson Palmer, on the other hand, does still have the ability to push for a starting job, and he'd provide for real competition for Freeman.
I don't believe that competition is somehow going to solve Freeman's accuracy issues, which are mostly related to his mechanics, but that is what the Buccaneers preach. And if they believe that, they're not going to find better and more realistic competition for Freeman than the former first overall pick.
2) The Bucs are all-in this season, and Palmer would be a quality backup
The fact that the Bucs are in hot pursuit of Darrelle Revis and going into the final year of Josh Freeman's contract suggests they're going all-in this season. Whether that's smart or not, it is likely a contract year for Mark Dominik and possibly even for Greg Schiano, although that's less likely with the historically patient Glazer family. And if you do go all-in, you can't afford to have your entire season hinging on the health and quality play of an inconsistent quarterback, which is what Josh Freeman is at this point.
Palmer isn't the greatest quarterback in the world, but he does have talent. He has good arm strength and athleticism, although he lost some of both after getting his knee shredded in 2006 and suffering an elbow injury during the 2009 season. Despite that he was a solid performer for the Oakland Raiders last year, posting above average statistics in every category except touchdown percentage, while Football Outsiders thought he had a significantly better season than Josh Freeman. All of that despite the fact that his most productive receiver was a mediocre tight end and he had no running game to speak of supporting him. Palmer isn't a world beater, but he's still a productive quarterback.
3) Palmer would provide insurance going forward
Josh Freeman is in the final year of his contract. If the Buccaneers trade for Darrelle Revis and give up their 2014 first-round pick, something that seems exceedingly likely, the Bucs will find themselves without a first-round pick next year. That means that if Freeman does indeed have an awful season, the Bucs have a bit of an issue in 2014. And by "a bit of an issue" I mean "Oh my god they're the Arizona Cardinals".
In that scenario, having Carson Palmer on the roster would be a luxury. You'd have a competent starter around to at least lead the team forward while you look for a long-term starter. And with a bit of luck, he could even turn into Brad Johnson.
Palmer would fit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The only real question is whether Palmer thinks the Bucs fit him.