When it became apparent that Carson Palmer really was done as the Cincinnati Bengals' starting quarterback—not just traded or released, but done, as in retired from pro football—the first question that came to my mind was: How should we remember Palmer's career?
Would it be accurate to call him a mediocre quarterback or another No. 1 draft pick bust when he won a Heisman Trophy, made two Pro Bowls and threw for more than 22,000 yards and 150 touchdowns in the NFL?
Then again, could you rightfully call Palmer a good QB when he finished with a 46-53 win-loss record, tossed nearly 100 interceptions in six full seasons as a starter and posted a career passer rating (86.9) that was lower than Chad Pennington's?
It will take time and perspective to truly tell Palmer's complicated legacy, though, which brings up the second question in his retirement aftermath: What will the Bengals do now?
Palmer was the face of the franchise—even when Chad Ochocinco was the mouth—for the majority of the last decade. He took the Bengals to the 2006 playoffs, the first time they'd been since Boomer Esiason was running the show, and again in 2010.
Cincinnati responded in a hurry, agreeing to contract terms with free-agent quarterback Bruce Gradkowski on Wednesday. A part-time starter with the Bucs, Browns and Raiders in his five seasons as a pro, Gradkowski will go into training camp competing with second-round draft pick Andy Dalton, who many see as the franchise's QB of the future.
Here are five reasons why Gradkowski should be the QB of the present.