Bengals to now listen to offers for Carson Palmer?

Cincinnati Bengals’ quarterback Carson Palmer is seen as the Bengals play the Baltimore Ravens’ at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on January 2, 2011. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

A week after the team’s official website reported that the Bengals would “kick the tires” on possible quarterback options this offseason, Peter King writes that Cincinnati will listen to offers for Carson Palmer once the CBA is finalized.

It’s looking more and more that the Bengals will draft their future quarterback in April, maybe even in the first round (they hold the No. 4 overall pick). Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett are all viewed as potential first rounders, but don’t rule out the possibility of Cincinnati taking someone like Christian Ponder seeing as how Jay Gruden has been hired as offensive coordinator. (Ponder’s best attribute is that he’s an accurate passer and Gruden will implement his version of the West Coast Offense, which requires a quarterback that’s accurate.)

The question I keep bringing up in regards to trading Palmer is what team will be willing to take on his salary and give up a draft pick(s) in order to acquire him? He’s still a serviceable starter but he’s 31 and his best days are clearly behind him. He may have performed well in the final two weeks of the 2010 regular season, but on a whole he wasn’t very good last season. Considering he’s owed $11.5 million in each of the next two years, plus $13 million in 2013 and $14 million in 2014, would teams rather wait to see if he’s released and then sign him to a more reasonable contract?

Rotoworld mentions the 49ers, Cardinals and Seahawks as possibilities for Palmer. All of those teams are logical choices, but I still have a hard time believing that any one of them would fight for a declining quarterback that they’d have to pay $11.5 million next season.

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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?

Bengals: We’re not trading Carson Palmer

Cincinnati Bengals’ quarterback Carson Palmer scrambles against Baltimore Ravens’ Terrell Suggs during the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on January 2, 2011. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

While everyone was focusing on the two conference championship games this weekend, there was a report out of Cincinnati on Sunday that quarterback Carson Palmer will demand a trade from the Bengals. But owner Mike Brown has final say in the matter and he told the media on Monday that the team will not trade Palmer.

Brown admitted that Palmer did meet with the Bengals last week about a possible trade, which gives merit to Chris Mortensen’s report that the quarterback wants out of Cincinnati. Mort even said that Palmer is willing to “play the retirement” card if he doesn’t get his wish, although that would mean he would leave $50 million on the table over the next four seasons.

But Brown has no plans to trade Palmer, who probably wouldn’t fetch much in return anyway. He hasn’t been the same player since the knee injury he suffered against Pittsburgh in the ’04 playoffs and his arm strength has been repeatedly questioned. He played well in the final two weeks of the 2010 regular season but that won’t be enough to entice a team to trade draft picks and fork over $50 million in order to acquire him. Even if the Bengals did agree to trade him, he would have to restructure his current deal.

For now, it looks like Palmer is stuck in the ‘Natti for the time being.

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