Carson Palmer Trade Rumors: Top 10 Destinations for Bengals Quarterback

Andrew LeighCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2011

Carson Palmer Trade Rumors: Top 10 Destinations for Bengals Quarterback

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    Carson Palmer has asked the Cincinnati Bengals to trade him following an ugly 4-12 season, according to a report published today.

    The former Heisman Trophy winner and number one overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft has had some serious ups and downs during his time in Cincinnati.

    He led the Bengals to the playoffs in 2005 in just his second year as a starter but suffered a brutal knee injury during the Bengals' first-round game. He also missed most of the 2008 season as he dealt with an elbow injury.

    His results have been largely mixed as a passer. He put up some big passing years early in his career, and guided the Bengals back to the playoffs in 2009, but 2010 was an ugly year for both Palmer and Cincinnati.

    Now, as the Bengals look to regroup and rebuild, Palmer has demanded to be moved. There are a number of teams out there looking for quarterbacks, be it through trades, free agency or the draft. So with that in mind, what are the 10 most likely landing spots for the two-time Pro Bowler?

    Teams may be scared off by his ugly performances in 2010, but it's likely someone will take the chance on trading for a quarterback like Palmer. I'll go over the 10 teams most likely to give the Bengals a call about their signal-caller.

1. San Francisco 49ers

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    San Francisco has a brand new coach in Jim Harbaugh, and they have a gaping hole at the quarterback position. Last year, Niners fans suffered through the ugly performances of Alex Smith, Troy Smith and David Carr. There clearly needs to be some stability for a franchise not used to suffering through so many ugly seasons.

    The passing game has some attractive weapons in tight end Vernon Davis and wide receiver Michael Crabtree, plus they have a number one running back in place in Frank Gore, as long as he can get healthy.

    Harbaugh and the franchise may value winning more games starting in 2011 over drafting another quarterback and trying to develop him, especially after the Alex Smith debacle. As a result, they seem like a good match for Palmer's services.

    Harbaugh may see enough left in Palmer's tank to think he can get him straightened out and get him to cut out the turnovers and get back to his mid-2000s level. Plus an added connection is provided by the fact that Palmer's wife is from San Francisco, so read into that whatever you'd like.

2. Carolina Panthers

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    Carolina has the number one pick in the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft, and all signs pointed to them selecting Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, had he declared himself for the draft. Luck chose instead to head back to Stanford to wrap up his architecture degree, so now Carolina is forced to look elsewhere at the top of the draft board.

    Signs point to them taking a defensive player, such as Auburn's Nick Fairley or Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers, so that would mean Carolina would still be relatively thin at the quarterback position.

    The Panthers did draft Jimmy Clausen a year ago, and Clausen was unexpectedly thrust into a ton of playing time in his rookie season. His performance was less than stellar, to say the least. Carolina still has talent on offense in running backs Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson, and they may still try to bring back free agent DeAngelo Williams.

    They also have Steve Smith at wide receiver, who has been dying for someone to consistently get him the ball these last two years.

    It may make sense for Carolina to shore up their defense or offensive line via the draft, and then take a chance on Palmer via trade as a way to try and make a quick turnaround from the NFL's worst team. Another full season of Jimmy Clausen may not be tolerable for a team not far removed from consistently making the playoffs.

3. Miami Dolphins

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    Chad Henne was not the answer in South Florida the last two years, nor was Chad Pennington or Tyler Thigpen. The Dolphins have a sizable hole at quarterback, and this might be a good situation for Palmer to move to.

    Miami has a great defense in place, and the Dolphins have some quality offensive players, most notably elite wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

    They also focus their offense on balance, using a two-back system with success over the years, although it's unclear who will return in 2011 between Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.

    Either way, the Dolphins desperately need an upgrade at quarterback, and Palmer, despite a bad 2010, would be just that compared to the Dolphins' current options.

4. Seattle Seahawks

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    Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent, and while his gutsy performance leading the Seahawks to a playoff win over the New Orleans Saints was admirable, there's no guarantee Pete Carroll brings him back for another year as the team's primary quarterback.

    Especially when a player that Carroll coached in his Heisman Trophy season at USC is available, and that's exactly the case with Palmer.

    I'm sure the rumors will kick up because of the history between Carroll and Palmer, and it's true that Seattle will need to sort out its quarterback position for 2011.

    But I ultimately think it's more likely that Hasselbeck returns for another few seasons as opposed to the Seahawks trading draft picks for Palmer, who may not even be an upgrade over Hasselbeck at this point in his career.

5. Arizona Cardinals

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    Larry Fitzgerald desperately needs a quarterback to throw him the ball. He might as well be wearing a "Help Wanted" sign around his neck on game days at this point for the Cardinals.

    Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton—none were able to do much on offense for the Cardinals in 2010, as there remains a large void under center in the wake of Kurt Warner's retirement.

    Arizona still has talented players on offense in the great Fitzgerald, plus another strong receiver in Steve Breaston. They've got a decent running game behind Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells. But they desperately need a quarterback, and Palmer could be enticing.

6. Tennessee Titans

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    In the offseason battle of who stays/who goes in the Titans organization, head coach Jeff Fisher prevailed, while expected quarterback of the future Vince Young was guaranteed to not return to Nashville by Titans management.

    That leaves a big hole at quarterback for a team that has enjoyed great success throughout Fisher's tenure as head coach. Kerry Collins was a serviceable backup who played decently when filling in for the injured Young, but he's not a building block.

    Could Palmer be a fit? He would be a shift in strategy from an offensive standpoint, as he's quite the opposite of the athletic, creative Vince Young. But he would have a quality top target in receiver Kenny Britt, and would play with a better running back than he's ever had in Chris Johnson.

    It could be a fit, if Tennessee doesn't look elsewhere for help at quarterback.

7. Washington Redskins

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    The marriage between quarterback Donovan McNabb and the father and son Shanahans did not go particularly well in 2010, which may be a major understatement. It was an unmitigated disaster, with McNabb being benched in favor of Rex Grossman late in the season.

    So all the speculation is that, despite the mega contract that McNabb signed during the season, he will be jettisoned this winter and Washington will look for a new answer at quarterback.

    If that's the case, the Skins could be drawn to Palmer, although it seems more likely that Washington will look to find a quarterback through the draft. Palmer would be the type of name owner Daniel Snyder enjoys acquiring, but he may not be the ideal football fit for a team that needs a lot of help to get back to contention in the tough NFC East.

8. Minnesota Vikings

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    Minnesota has mercifully freed themselves from the Brett Favre monster, but they're now back to square one at the quarterback position. Joe Webb had some nice moments late in the year, but he's a converted wide receiver and it seems unlikely that he's the future for the Vikings.

    They could look to draft a Cam Newton or Ryan Mallett type quarterback to build around, but Minnesota already has pieces in place to complete again in 2011. Remember, they went to the NFC Championship Game a year ago, so a quarterback like Carson Palmer may entice a team that thinks they are a few tweaks away from contention in the NFC North.

9. Buffalo Bills

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    Buffalo has had a hole at quarterback for quite some time, but in 2010 they got a strong season from Ryan Fitzpatrick. They had an improved yet still poor season, showing signs of life by competing in a number of games and pushing quality teams to their limits.

    Trading for Carson Palmer might be enticing, given that he may present an upgrade over Fitzpatrick and allow the Bills to use their high first-round pick to fill another need, perhaps on defense. They've been developing some decent offensive players, so adding a veteran quarterback might be a palatable ideal for the Buffalo brain trust.

    I would still consider them long shots to land Palmer, though.

10. Oakland Raiders

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    Oakland picked up a quarterback just last winter in former Redskin Jason Campbell. But Al Davis loves shiny new toys, and is constantly picking up random players with varying degrees of success. Oakland is bound to most likely lose their elite cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to free agency, so they should have some money to spend.

    It's possible Davis won't be satisfied with Campbell or Bruce Gradkowski and will be enticed by Carson Palmer's previous glory in Southern California, plus his early years in Cincinnati. Crazier things have happened with the Raiders in recent history, so while it's a long shot, it's possible Palmer could end up in Oakland.