Three reasons why Carson Palmer will remain a Bengal

Cincinnati Bengals Carson Palmer throws a pass in the third quarter against the New York Jets in week 12 of the NFL season at New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on November 25, 2010. The Jets defeated the Bengals 26-10. UPI /John Angelillo

The National Football Post is reporting that Carson Palmer is still serious about his request to be traded this offseason. Teammate Andrew Whitworth even went as far as to say that the quarterback “wouldn’t speak out unless it was something he was serious about.”

But a trade or outright release still seems highly unlikely at this point. Things can change rather quickly in the NFL so I’m not suggesting that there’s zero chance that Palmer could play elsewhere next season, but here are three reasons I believe he’ll remain a Bengal.

1. His contract.
Palmer signed a six-year, $118.75 million contract extension in 2005. He’s set to make $11.5 million the next two years, $13 million in 2013 and $14 million in 2014 before he becomes a free agent in 2015. He’s 31 and hasn’t been the same quarterback since he suffered that knee injury in the 2004 playoffs. How can the Bengals convince any team to take on his salary and part with a draft pick(s)? Unless Palmer were to take a significant pay cut and/or the Bengals were willing to accept less value for a starting quarterback (which Palmer still is, regardless of his struggles the past couple of seasons), he won’t be moved. Releasing him is still an option, but keep in mind that the Bengals are the ones that want to retain him. It’s Palmer who wants out.

2. Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco will be gone.
When Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell were his starting receivers the last two weeks of the season, Palmer put up his best numbers of the year and actually looked like he was having fun again. Maybe the having fun part is a misconception but it’s not hard to believe that Palmer is worn out from playing with guys like Ochocinco, T.O. and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. They’re always open, they always want the ball and they’re always in either Palmer or Marvin Lewis’ ear. But Owens (a free agent) probably won’t be back and Houshmandzadeh is long gone, which only leaves Ochocinco. There have been conflicting reports about whether or not the Bengals want to keep the Ocho for next year. But when you consider he’s 33, his production has started to decline, he’s scheduled to make $6 million in the final year of his contract and he can be a headache, it would appear that there’s only a slim chance he’ll return next season. If the Bengals can guarantee Palmer that he doesn’t have to deal with some of the distractions that he’s had to put up with his entire career, it stands to reason that he would give Cincinnati another try.

3. Jay Gruden.
The Bengals fired Bob Bratkowski as offensive coordinator and hired Jay Gruden to provide a spark to the offense. In Bratkowski’s system, the receiver’s routes took time to develop, which meant Palmer had to sit in the pocket and was seemingly always under duress. But Gruden’s system is designed for the quarterback to get the ball out of his hands quickly and is much more quarterback-friendly (as was Jon Gruden’s West Coast Offense in Tampa Bay and Oakland). Thus, if the Bengals could rid themselves of T.O. and Ochocinco and provide Palmer with a more quarterback-friendly system, it may rejuvenate him. (Then the team doesn’t have to worry about drafting a signal caller at No. 4 when they have so many other needs to address.) Of course, the Bengals still have to part ways with Ochocinco and convince Palmer that things will be better, but hey, it’s a long offseason. They have some time.

Comment Starter: Will Palmer remain a Bengal or will the team look to trade or release him this offseason?

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