Carson Palmer was recently quoted by a confidant as saying, "He will never set foot in Paul Brown Stadium again." He reportedly also said, "I have $80 million in the bank. I don't have to play football for money. I'll play it for the love of the game but that would have to be elsewhere. I'm prepared to live my life."
I've heard a mixed bag of reactions from Bengals fans to Carson's trade me or I'll retire decree. The most common one has been a melancholy, "He's been Bungled". They blame the incompetence of owner Mike Brown for the Bengals lackluster record over the last 20 some years.
The fans are right, as Mike Brown is the worst owner in the NFL. His dedication to cheapness ensures the Bengals are profitable, which is really all he cares about. Unfortunately the lack of a financial commitment leads to poor results on the field for a wide variety of reasons. This lead me to rank the Bengals accordingly in a recent article http://bleacherreport.com/articles/586250-super-bowl-title-droughts-ranking-all-14-nfl-titleless-teams-future-odds.
Say what you will about Mike Brown's ability to build and sustain a winner on the field, but his contract prowess cannot be denied. He bent Hamilton County over a barrel to get a very favorable deal for Paul Brown Stadium. Every time a player has demanded a trade in the past, Mike Brown has turned a deaf ear.
Takeo Spikes and Corey Dillon eventually made their way out of town long after the fact. Chad Johnson/Ochocinco is still in Bengals stripes for the time being. It looks like Carson Palmer is going to end up retiring a Bengal. Giving into a player's demand to be traded is a terrible precedent to set. Not giving into player demands is one of the few things that Mike Brown has done right. If Carson Palmer is willing to walk away from all of the millions of dollars left on his contract, then Mike Brown will be more than happy to let him do so. Not having to pay people is what Mike Brown likes best.
The part that makes you scratch your head is how badly Carson Palmer misread the situation. He should have been intelligent enough to realize that Mike Brown would never give in to his trade demand. If he truly wanted out of Cincinnati his best option was to keep on playing. His mediocre performance coupled with a huge salary cap figure would have gotten him cut in about a year after a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was in place. Either Carson is an idiot or he truly wants to retire and stick it to Mike Brown in a blaze of glory on the way out.
Carson Palmer retiring in some ways could be a blessing in disguise for the Bengals. The 2011 schedule is projected to be very easy. Even with Carson's diminishing skills, the Bengals would probably have finished around .500 if they stayed relatively healthy. They get to play the NFC West which just sent a 7-9 team as the division champ to the playoffs, Broncos, Bills, Titans, and Browns twice. Those teams alone make up seven games against teams picking in the top eight spots in the draft. That doesn't even factor in marginal teams like the Seahawks, Rams, Texans and Jaguars that are on the schedule. They still aren't catching the Steelers or Ravens anytime soon though. At least not without something drastic happening.
That is why I am suggesting the best thing the Bengals could do for their long term future is lose next season. That won't be easy to accomplish with a schedule so easy. However, if they manage to lose to the bad teams (therefore eliminating their competition for the #1 pick) they can end up with the ultimate prize.
I think what will happen is the Bengals will sign Vince Young or draft Cam Newton with the fourth pick overall. Both players fit the Bengals mold of "talented" player with off the field and or character concerns. I put talented in quotes because I don't believe either Young or Newton will ever lead a team to a Super Bowl title.
They both won National Championships in college due to being more athletic than the competition by leaps and bounds. However, their lack of passing skills make them sub-par options in the NFL. Even as a sub-par option Vince Young is good enough to win enough games to make the Bengals "lose" the top pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Cam Newton is raw enough where he could pull off bottoming out the Bengals, but having him on the roster ruins my common sense solution.
What the Bengals should do is one of two things. First, let the Carson situation drag out too long. He will stay retired and it will be too late for the Bengals to find any viable options on the market. This will lead to Jordan Palmer or Dan LeFevour starting the season at quarterback, and the Bengals heading straight into the toilet. Carson Palmer can then be made the fall guy for being selfish and ruining the season.
Really a solid idea.
The second option is to sign JaMarcus Russell to be the starting quarterback. The Bengals brass can spin it as they are taking a shot at a former number one overall pick and that if Carson comes back they can use JaMarcus as his backup. JaMarcus is so bad that they would almost be assured of landing the top pick in the draft.
Why am I advocating bottoming out for one season? The reason is simple. Andrew Luck is more than likely going to be in the 2012 NFL Draft. Put quite simply, he is the best quarterback prospect I have seen since Peyton Manning. Maybe even better. He is the sort of talent that can turn a franchise around even if they do have a terrible owner. I believe the only thing that could derail him would be a major injury. Luck is a franchise savior, and bottoming out for one year would be well worth it to get him. In the end Bengals fans may have Carson Palmer's crybaby attitude to thank for turning around the franchise.