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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Marvin Lewis takes another shot at Chad Ochocinco

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco (85) talks with head coach Marvin Lewis during the second quarter of their game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis on November 14, 2010. UPI /Mark Cowan

The battle between Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and receiver Chad Ochocinco is turning into a tale of two scorned lovers.

Early last week, Ochocinco sent the Boston Herald’s Ian Rapoport a Twitter message suggesting that he’d welcome a trade to the Patriots this offseason. A couple days later, Lewis took a shot at his star receiver by saying: “Nobody was talking about him. He didn’t stand that,” which was in reference to Ocho’s desire for attention. Lewis then went on to say: “You want them to talk about you, win football games.”

At the Senior Bowl on Monday, Lewis again took a swipe at his receiver, this time saying that Bill Belichick is “smarter” than to acquire a player like Ochocinco. So in one week, Lewis basically called his best receiver an attention-starved diva and then suggested that one of the league’s best coaches was smart enough to stay away from him.

For a guy who reportedly wanted out of Cincinnati because of the circus-like atmosphere, Lewis sure is turning up the drama lately. And if Belichick is too smart to take on a headache like Ochocinco, then what does that make Lewis for keeping him on the roster? If he’s that much of a distraction, why doesn’t Lewis convince the higher ups to get rid of the Ocho?

Ochocinco and T.O. both said on their latest episode of “The T.Ocho Show” that they would love to play for the Jets next season. So while Ochocinco continues to lobby to play for other teams, his head coach is taking not-so-subtly jabs at him.

This situation is turning ugly.

Marvin Lewis to remain with the Bengals now?

Cincinnati Bengals’ head coach Marvin Lewis talks to quarterbacks Carson (L) and Jordan Palmer as they play the Baltimore Ravens’ at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on January 2, 2011. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

In rather surprising news, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Marvin Lewis is now expected to return as the Bengals’ head coach in 2011.

Schefter knows what I ate from breakfast, so I’m sure this report is on the money. If so, it’s rather shocking considering it looked like Lewis was on the outs as of yesterday.

I don’t know why Lewis would want to return to the mess that is the Cincinnati Bengals but maybe owner Mike Brown promised to make some changes. The Bengals have one of the smallest scouting staffs in the league and Lewis was reportedly frustrated by the way Brown runs the organization. But maybe he had a change of heart after meeting with Brown on Monday.

If Lewis is given a new contract, his first order of business should be to figure out what to do with quarterback Carson Palmer. If the Bengals still feel as though Palmer can get them to the playoffs and beyond, they may want to think about parting ways with Chad Ochocinco. Palmer’s best game came against the Chargers in Week 16 and he played well against Baltimore in Week 17. Both of those performances came with Ochocinco and Terrell Owens were both out with injuries.

At this point, it might be worth it to the Bengals to see what Palmer can do next year without receivers like Ochocinco, T.O. and T.J. Houshmandzadeh buzzing in his ear. One would think that the Bengals’ offense would be worse off without a player like Ochocinco, but Palmer’s last two games tell a different story.

Would Palmer benefit from the Bengals dumping Ochocinco?

There have already been reports that the Bengals won’t bring back Terrell Owens next season. And if they believe that Carson Palmer’s success Sunday against the Chargers was, in part, of both T.O. and Chad Ochocinco not being in the lineup, then they may part with The Ocho next season, too.

Palmer had his best game of the season on Sunday in absence of T.O. and Ochocinco, who were both nursing injuries. He completed 16-of-21 passes for 269 yards and four touchdowns. His completion percentage of 76.2 and his QB rating of 157.2 was his highest of the season – by far. It was also the most touchdown passes he’s thrown in a single game this year and he didn’t throw an interception.

Granted, it was only one game. And one game is too small a serving size to draw any conclusions about whether or not Palmer is a better quarterback with or without Ochocinco, T.O., T.J. Houshmandzadeh or whatever other receiver that isn’t afraid to express his desire to need the ball. But it’s somewhat telling that Palmer had his best game with T.O. and Ochocinco standing on the sideline. This wasn’t the Redskins or Panthers that Palmer lit up either – it was the San Diego Chargers, the top ranked defense in the league.

T.O. had season-ending surgery a week ago and Ochocinco may not play next week either. It’ll be interesting to see how Palmer plays against a Ravens team that is still fighting for first place in the AFC North. If he’s efficient, then maybe the Bengals need to consider taking a longer look at keeping Palmer and jettisoning Ochocinco. After all, this team is long overdue for an offensive makeover and maybe getting rid of Palmer isn’t the answer like some are suggesting.

Again, it was only one game and there are plenty of reasons to think that Palmer isn’t, and hasn’t been the same player since suffering that knee injury in 2004. That said, it’ll still be interesting to watch him play next week without worrying about appeasing any of his receivers.

Will Ochocinco be back with Bengals in 2011?

On Tuesday night’s episode of the “T.Ocho Show,”Chad Ochocinco discussed the possibility of not returning to the Bengals. He sees “significant” changes being made for the 2011 season and he doesn’t know if the team will retain him.

From the Cincinnati Enquirer:

Says Ochocinco about next season: “I’d love to see Terrell come back next year. As far as myself, I don’t even know if I’ll be back next year. … Changes will be made and they’ll be significant.”

Some pundits believe that the Bengals are unlikely to pick up Ocho’s $6 million option for next year. The team has to make decisions about whether or not to retain other key offensive players such as Cedric Benson and Carson Palmer and may not want to spend $6 million to keep a receiver when a makeover is paramount.

Offensively, the Bengals have been inconsistent the past two years. The one thing they had going for them on that side of the ball last year was that they could run. But after spending the offseason trying to upgrade the passing game with the additions of T.O. and rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham, the entire offense has taken a step backwards. Now Cincinnati is to the point where it has to consider gutting the whole thing and starting from scratch.

Will that require jettisoning players like Ochocinco and Palmer? Maybe.

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