As the Carson Palmer vs. Mike Brown standoff remains very much in effect, it would be impossible to guess how this is all going to end up. Rather than trying to assess the multitude of reasons for and against his departure/retirement, why don't we do some good old fashioned speculating on who could get the most out of Palmer instead?
The debate rages on as to whether Palmer is actually worth much anymore, and yet despite this criticism, there is little doubt that if available, he would be snatched up in a heartbeat.
Why is that you ask?
Well in terms of how many teams need a quarterback, there has not been a year of desperation quite like this before. The 2010 season saw a lot of makeshift quarterbacks take the reins (John Skelton, Joe Webb, Troy Smith and Alex Smith, etc.), with few making a solid case for why they deserved the starting gig.
To many of these teams, Palmer is a mighty upgrade from their current situation and despite his recent disappointments, he has the potential to make a significant impact in a new city.
So without further or due, let us run down the team's that could most likely make a playoff run with Palmer under center.
One of the main points that people often raise to justify why Carson Palmer would fit in San Francisco, is that his wife is from the Bay Area. Now as preposterous a reason as that is for someone to move teams, it may be something that would sweeten the deal for Palmer if the prospect of this trade came up.
One would think that Jim Harbaugh would jump at the chance to get Palmer in San Francisco, as a new Head Coach joining the NFL in what is a particularly tumultuous offseason, Harbaugh would very much relish the stability that a veteran QB like Palmer could bring to the table. With Alex and Troy Smith both free agent's, Palmer would most certainly provide an upgrade, it is definitely be a situation worth keeping an eye on.
Let's not forget that we are talking NFC West here, a division that the Seattle Seahawks won with a 7-9 record and a fairly average team. While St. Louis are beginning to develop with Sam Bradford at the helm, Arizona and San Francisco are very much in need of a QB to make that step.
The 49ers have weapons on offense with Frank Gore, Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree providing a significant amount of talent for Palmer to work with. It would not be a stretch to suggest that the 49ers could make a playoff run with Palmer on board, as he would likely have an immediate impact on the weak NFC West, with experience over Bradford, and a more balanced overall team than Seattle, Palmer could run the West, win the division and be one game away from the NFC Championship.
With what is currently a significantly lower level of competition than the AFC North, coupled with a close proximity to home, and an exciting head coach and talented roster, Palmer could thrive in San Francisco, if ever there was a perfect scenario, it would be this one, right?
Leslie Frazier is one man who is in desperate need of a bit of good fortune. That good fortune could well come in the shape of Carson Palmer.
The void left by Brett Favre in Minnesota couldn't be more personified by the hole in the Metrodome roof if it tried. Minnesota are a team in desperate need of a quick fix. They definitely have the money to bring Palmer in, but the question of his inconsistencies might make them hesitant.
Depending on which Palmer turns up in Minnesota, it could be a great thing for the division and for a team whose fans are some of the most vocal in the league.
There is no doubt that a move from the AFC North to the NFC North would provide Palmer with no relief from rock hard competition, with the Superbowl Champions, an NFC Championship team and a Lions team that is looking better and better each year to contend with.
So why would I suggest that Minnesota could make a playoff with Palmer? Well they made it to the NFC Championship with Favre under center, and they got there because the team around him was and still is damn talented. Harvin, Rice and Peterson, make for an electric offensive unit, and for a team that is one QB away from contending, Palmer could provide that platform.
With the Vikings working out just about every QB in the upcoming draft, it's likely that they will take one of the many prospects available, as Frazier has made clear his desire to upgrade from second year man Joe Webb. Palmer could prove a great stop-gap QB option, grooming whichever recruit they bring in and keeping the Vikings competitive while he does it.
The Miami Dolphins need to invest their first round pick in their running game. Mark Ingram looks like the likely recipient of that pick, and can hopefully jumpstart Miami's offense.
This will allow the Dolphins to explore other options at QB, in particular, trading for Carson Palmer. Chad Henne and Chad Pennington have both done their best to make it very clear that neither one of them wants the starting job, losing the faith of the front office and the fans along the way.
In a division where Buffalo remain beatable, and the Jets and New England duke it out for dominance, Miami could be the stick in the spokes for one of those teams. Palmer could, in support of a run-first offense, provide a solid option at QB. With Davone Bess and Brandon Marshall to throw to and a defense beginning to find it's identity, Palmer could be the answer.
Despite the Jets progressing further into the playoffs these last two years than the Patriots, the Jets remain the more beatable team for the Miami Dolphins, as their brash attitude can often be their worst enemy.
Though the Dolphins will have to look at upgrading their offensive line to protect a somewhat fragile Palmer, he would most certainly be a step in the right direction for Tony Sparano, and the best chance of Miami having a well-rounded team in 2011, rather than having to leave QB or RB to address next year.
Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent. Pete Carroll has stated that re-signing Hasselbeck is his No. 1 priority this offseason. So where does Carson Palmer fit into this? Well, Seattle tried to hammer out a deal with Hasselbeck before the CBA gong rang out, but to no avail.
As things stand, Hasselbeck could be lured away by any one of the many teams in search of a veteran QB and despite many stating that Seattle are in the market for Kevin Kolb, they could wind up with neither. This could be a situation in which Palmer comes into play.
Seattle would benefit from Palmer and Carroll's USC relationship, which would hopefully enthuse Palmer in a way he hasn't been for years in Cincinnati, allowing him to go back to where he started and retune his game. Can Palmer run a Pete Carroll system? Well he won a Heisman Trophy under Carroll's system and handed Mike Williams 81 receptions, 1,265 yards and 14 TDs in 2002 in that system. If that doesn't whet your appetite not much else will.
Seattle could also use their first round pick to provide Palmer with some protection and draft an offensive guard, perhaps Maukice Pouncey or Danny Watkins. Seattle's offensive unit is one still in search of it's identity but a strong showing against the Saints in the playoffs, coupled with Pete Carroll's Ra-Ra leadership have their confidence high and them believing they can do it again this year.
If Palmer can slip into Hasselbeck's shoes, there is no reason why the Seahawks can't be just as successful if not more so this year. While it doesn't take an awful lot for an NFC West team to make the playoffs, Palmer can most certainly be a good QB some days and an elite QB on others...and that just might be enough in the NFC West.
It's no surprise that the fifth team in my look at teams that could make a playoff run with Palmer is yet another NFC West team. It really shows the impact that Palmer could have on that division.
Since Kurt Warner hung it up and went where all former greats go to die, NFL Network, the Arizona Cardinals have been riding the QB carousel in the hope that they could find someone to fill the void. Unfortunately they have had no success so far.
This is a shame because Arizona most definitely have the talent, all they need is a QB under center who can bring it all together and most importantly, get the ball to Larry Fitzgerald. With Ken Whisenhunt on the hot seat, Palmer could provide him with a little more job security, that perhaps Blaine Gabbert or any other rookie could not.
It would make a change for Palmer to be with an offensive-minded coach like Whisenhunt, following his complete loss of faith in defensive minded Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati. Palmer would likely thrive in Arizona, with all of the tools to succeed, an innovative offense, a huge playmaker in Fitzgerald and if the Card's were to take a big time defensive prospect with the No. 5 overall pick, they can be sure he'll have the ball in his hands often.
First of all, I have to commend Kerry Collins. He's one journeyman who can still pull a few games out and you have to respect him for that. Unfortunately he's not the realistic solution going forward. Neither is Vince Young, but let's not get into him.
Tennessee sit at an awkward No. 8 in the draft pecking order, meaning that the likelihood is both Gabbert and Newton are gone by the time they come to pick. This would lead Tennessee to pick up whichever best defensive prospect is still available, possibly Fairley, leaving the QB question still on the table.
New Head Coach Mike Munchak will have to decide whether or not he wants a second round QB prospect, or whether he wants to start with a veteran. This opens the door to our candidate, Carson Palmer.
While Tennessee could enter the market for Kolb, the price tag may prove too high. Palmer could provide a healthy alternative to the option of trading up for a QB or partaking in the Kevin Kolb bidding war.
But would Tennessee be a good fit for struggling Palmer? I believe so, as the Titans are not looking for Peyton Manning, instead with an offense built around letting Chris Johnson run all over every man on the field, Palmer will not have as much pressure on his shoulders. He's most definitely a step up from Young, a mature level-headed leader.
While I have tried to rationalize the success Palmer could potentially give to a number of the teams around the league, I understand that the likelihood is, Palmer doesn't play anywhere in 2011, so he may as well hit the local bowling alley and form a team there...
Mike Brown continues to make clear the fact that he has no intention of letting Palmer go (as Joe Reedy reported today), and if you know Brown like Bengals fans do, he's more stubborn than you could ever imagine! He is an old fashioned owner who is very much about loyalty and setting a precedent. In other words, its Mike's way or the highway.
In spite of this, special circumstances can lead to some anomalies along the road, and with the draft approaching, the likelihood of something coming to fruition may come as a result of that. If your team is in need of a QB and you aren't repulsed by the idea of Carson coming to town, now is the time to cross your fingers and hope for the best...