After spending recent weeks appealing to the ears and mind and heart of veteran quarterback Carson Palmer, the Raiders now are getting unsolicited assistance from an unexpected source.
Tom Brady, forever a villain in the Oakland narrative, is here to help.
And if Palmer is the person I believe he is -- and the Raiders hope he is -- he will be influenced by the Patriots quarterback.
Brady this week agreed to a three-year contract extension worth roughly $27 million. Though this is unimaginable wealth for just about everybody, it represents a short-term discount for the services of a future Hall of Famer who is the centerpiece of a perennial contender.
This move, basically a restructuring, provides instant salary-cap relief for the Patriots, who are running out of time to add to their three Super Bowl championships with Brady.
More to the point, this is evidence that the 35-year-old San Mateo native places the highest priority on winning. In taking less than market value, Brady is doing what a leader should, giving his bosses the opportunity to improve the team around him.
The Raiders are asking Palmer, 33, to make a similar gesture. They expect him to comply. They need him to. And he should.
With Palmer due this season to make $13 million (a reported $15.3 million cap hit), restructuring his deal is one of the keys to Oakland's ability to make offseason moves. The team wants Palmer to return, but also declares
When I recently asked coach Dennis Allen if there were any scenario in which the team might enter 2013 without Palmer, he paused for several seconds before responding.
"I'll answer it like this: I want Carson to be a part of this football team," he said. "In my mind, in my vision, I go into the year and in our first OTAs, Carson runs out there with the (first team).
"But I've said this and I'll continue to say it -- and it isn't a knock on Carson at all -- I want to create competition. And I want to create competition at all levels of our team, because that's the only way you get better."
Allen tapped the table for emphasis. His message on this topic echoed that delivered a few days earlier by new offensive coordinator Greg Olson. Both say they plan to work closely with backup quarterback Terrelle Pryor in an attempt to realize his full potential.
Both also say they will shop for other quarterbacks, while expressing confidence in Palmer and conceding he obviously is the most capable quarterback on the roster.
These messages remain consistent with general manager Reggie McKenzie, who says the front office still is trying to determine which players -- including Palmer -- are going to be part of the team in 2013 and beyond.
"We have to identify our core, and we're still trying to do that," McKenzie said. "And once we've settled on that, try to maintain it and build around it. The quarterback certainly has to be included."
Palmer has been inconsistent, making exceptional throws, abysmal throws and some horrible decisions. He also has absorbed considerable physical punishment -- purple welts and bruises usually decorate his upper body after games -- as well as the emotional abrasions left by fans vocally expressing their irritation.
Through it all, though, Palmer has been a pro, pointing to himself before all others. That's what a leader does.
Palmer was lounging at home, having "retired" from the Cincinnati Bengals, when the Raiders called in October 2011. He jumped at the opportunity to play again, to rejoin then-Raiders coach Hue Jackson, who in the 1990s recruited the quarterback to USC.
With the blessing of owner Mark Davis, Jackson dug deep to acquire Palmer. The cost was a first-round pick in 2012 and a second-round pick in 2013.
The rewards thus far have not offset the risk, though it's not entirely Palmer's fault. He needs help, needs a lot of help, and he knows it.
He now has an easy way to exhibit his commitment to the Raiders and to winning. All it would take is an adjustment making his salary more palatable, allowing the franchise greater flexibility to add talent.
Contracts are restructured every offseason, and they often go uncelebrated. It's what ambitious team players do, as long as they get their cash in the end. Brady, known to Raiders fans as the beneficiary of the "Tuck Rule" play, eventually will get his money.
But he was willing to satisfy the team's accountants while pleasing its football staff and making his job easier. Michael Vick, with less leverage, did the same in Philadelphia.
It's Palmer's turn. That's what leaders do when winning is the priority.