When the Oakland Raiders asked Carson Palmer to take a $3 million pay cut earlier this month, his decision seemed like a no-brainer.

By proposing that the 33-year-old quarterback take a relatively modest reduction from his $13 million base salary, rather than a drastic cut, the Raiders were essentially affirming their faith in Palmer's abilities. And given that it's highly unlikely Palmer could command anywhere close to $10 million annually on the open market, staying seemed like the obvious play.

Yet Palmer, Y! Sports has learned and other media outlets have reported, balked at the Raiders' request, a move that could lead to his outright release. The quarterback's decision, according to three sources familiar with Palmer's mindset, is based on a sense that Oakland's prospects for success in 2013 are so bleak that money is no longer the predominant factor in his thought process.

Palmer's rejection of the Raiders' proposal could lead him to the Arizona Cardinals, who are in the market for a starting quarterback, or possibly put him on the path to becoming a backup for a contending team. Oakland, meanwhile, may respond to the player's hardened stance by trading for Seattle Seahawks backup Matt Flynn or selecting West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith with the third overall pick in the draft.

Whereas Palmer's return to the Raiders seemed like a given just a few weeks ago, there's an increasing sense both inside the organization and in Palmer's camp that a divorce is imminent.

"Carson isn't 28, and he doesn't know how much time he has left," one source close to Palmer said Wednesday. "Does he want to be with a team that is clearly rebuilding and looks like it's a long way away from contending, where he doesn't have a whole lot around him?

"He's gotten to play a lot in his career, but he hasn't gotten to experience a lot of winning. At this point, I think being somewhere where they have a chance to win is the most important thing."
Whether Palmer, who did not return messages seeking comment, has a chance to do that in a starting capacity remains to be seen.