In an offseason of very little news that isn't inherently based around the collective bargaining agreement, word from the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero that the Miami Dolphins are flirting with the idea of bringing in Carson Palmer seems to be the latest piece of not-quite-news in the epic saga that is (move over Brett Favre) "Palmer Watch."
I have no doubt that if he were available, there would be teams (49ers, Vikings, Cardinals) queuing around the block to make an offer to the disgruntled QB, and some say that there will in fact be a trade as soon as possible. I for one being a longtime Bengals fan [read: pessimist] have little doubt that Carson will not be playing in Cincinnati, or any other city for that matter come the 2011 season.
Mike Brown does not allow players to make demands. If you play for Mike Brown, it's very much under his terms from day one until day done. People may point to Boomer Esiason and say that the same thing will happen with Palmer, but I would suggest that Mike Brown is not worried about his trade policy being historically consistent. In recent years he's made it quite clear that he won't have his hand forced. Case in point: Chad Ochocinco's trade demands falling flat.
Mike Brown is not a man to play games, he is a straight-talking owner. He's made it very clear that, as far as the Bengals are concerned, their starting QB is retiring and that is a great shame. Despite various developments (Carson slating Bengals, putting house on market, declaring his wealth etc.), Brown has continued to suggest that his viewpoint remains the same. Carson is under contract, and we would hope he honors it. If he wants to retire, we wish him the best.
For Bengals fans this proves frustrating, Carson could potentially be worth a couple of solid draft picks, and yet the Bengals faithful know all too well that Mikey B could quite possibly let him retire and get absolutely nothing for him, in order to set a precedent.
So what happens next?
The Bengals coaching staff has been present at almost all QB workouts, so you can be sure of one thing: the Bengals are moving on, full steam ahead. If available, expect Newton or Gabbert to be the Bengals first-round pick.
Carson Palmer knows that if he does retire, he won't have to pay any money back to the Bengals, based on the arbitrary rule that allowed Mike Vick and Ashley Lelie to keep their cash. He will be aware of this and is no doubt prepared to make it a reality if a new collective bargaining agreement doesn't address that issue. Various "confidantes" have suggested that Carson Palmer would not publicly state his demands if he wasn't 100 percent serious, and I have to say I agree with that.
A question remains, however. In the event that the Bengals draft a QB with their first-round pick, will Carson Palmer use that as leverage to gain a trade? It is perhaps, Palmer's best shot at getting out, and Mike Brown's only weakness is his hatred of spending money. Despite having more cap room than most, the prospect of paying two quarterbacks might be a little too pricey for Mikey.
In the meantime, expect "Palmer Watch" to continue at the slow pace which it is currently chugging along. If the Bengals take a QB and the CBA issue is resolved, expect a flood of news about tantalizing offers dangled under Brown's nose, followed by news of many rejections of them. As Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com recently reported sources close to Brown say "Palmer is one of his favorite all-time Bengals," furthering the sentiment that any concept of a possible trade was doomed from the get-go.
While it has been suggested that Mike Brown's position on a trade is softening, one might suggest that when backed into a corner, Brown is even less likely to do as anticipated. For now though, most Bengals fans will agree, Carson Palmer will play in Cincinnati in 2011, or he will sit out. If the Bengals take a QB and Carson Palmer turns up to get paid, Mike Brown could well force Palmer to start, making one thing certain—the advice he will give his successor will be something along the lines of..."Run!"
While I have suggested that Carson Palmer probably won't get the trade he desires, I would suggest that him playing in Cincinnati this year would be nothing short of a train wreck. He may have the vote of Mike Brown, but he has most definitely lost the support of the Bengals fanbase, who booed him out of the stadium on more than one occasion last season.
With no CBA resolution on the imminent horizon, expect Palmer news to be thin on the ground, and I use the word "news" lightly. Perhaps news of a trade to the Patriots, who have had enough of Tom Brady's distracting haircut? If we're lucky we may even get the sought-after insight of T.J. Houshmandzadeh weighing in on the subject...