View Full Version : Bengals in a QB quandary

01-30-2011, 09:23 PM
Bengals in a QB quandary
Analysis: No easy fix to Palmer's trade request
By Joe Reedy • jreedy@enquirer.com • January 29, 2011

CINCINNATI With the Bengals having produced only two winning seasons the past 20 years, fans have been conditioned to expect the worst. But not even the biggest pessimists could have predicted what has transpired the past four weeks.

Carson Palmer's request for a trade became public last week, putting both the Bengals and the quarterback in a no-win situation.

Fans wonder why Palmer had not been vocal in his discontent until now, when the Bengals have no strong candidate to replace him. The impending expiration of the collective bargaining agreement between team owners and the players association this March further decreases the likelihood of a quick solution. Even if the Bengals wanted to explore a trade, none can be made until a new CBA is reached.

"I'm not surprised he's frustrated because I understand where he's coming from," said former Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason, who also demanded a trade before being dealt to the New York Jets in 1993. "He's in a division with (Pittsburgh's) Ben Roethlisberger and (Baltimore's) Joe Flacco, who are with stable franchises who will get rid of malcontents. You look at the Bengals' sideline and it's a psychotherapy session.":toofunny::toofunny::toofunny::toofunny:

The Bengals and Palmer's agent, David Dunn, are expected to meet in the next couple weeks.

How it got to this point

Dysfunction has become normal for the Bengals, both on and off the field. When the team reported to training camp last July, offensive guard Bobbie Williams said that there wouldn't be any "idiotacy," but that became the theme to the Bengals' 4-12 season.

The "T.Ocho Show" might have been a success on Versus, but the pairing of wide receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco was a failure on the field.

Their statistics were decent - Owens, the Bengals' big free-agent signing, led the team with 983 yards and nine touchdowns receiving, and Ochocinco was second with 831 yards and four scores. But both improvised routes and rarely went over the middle.

There sometimes seemed to be a lack of effort, such as when Owens went to the sidelines instead of trying to make a play on the ball after an interception against Miami on Oct. 31. And during the Nov. 8 game against Pittsburgh, Ochocinco sulked and was kicked out of the huddle for a couple plays.

There were other receiver problems, too. Antonio Bryant, who was signed to a four-year, $28 million contract with about $8 million guaranteed despite coming off a season shortened by a knee injury, was released during the preseason. During an Oct. 10 game against Tampa Bay, rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham had an argument with Palmer on the sideline and needed to be pulled away.

The turmoil left Palmer in the role of peace-keeper rather than leader.

"He has been put in a position with the addition of players around him where he has had to be Switzerland instead of being a leader," CBS analyst and former Bengal Solomon Wilcots said.

Each of the past three training camps, Palmer has worked with significant changes to his receiving corps. He also has been unhappy with veteran Ochocinco's lack of attendance at offseason workouts.

Another issue could be a perceived lack of discipline in the locker room. When Lewis signed his contract extension on Jan. 4, he said he had received more authority to discipline players, but those inside the locker room remain skeptical.

Said one offensive player at the end of the season: "If I'm late for a meeting and I'm on the defense, I know Mike Zimmer is going to call me out and I'm going to be disappointed because I let him down. If I'm late for my meeting, I'm more disappointed with my position coach's reaction than (that of offensive coordinator) Bob (Bratkowski) and Marvin."

When Lewis' return was announced, Palmer declined comment.

"There wasn't any criticism by Palmer but it wasn't exactly a vote of confidence either," Wilcots said.

Other issues in the mix

Palmer also has taken too many hits over the past three seasons. He was sacked 26 times each of the past two seasons and 11 times in 2008, when he was limited to just four games because of an elbow injury.

Last season, Palmer missed parts of practices due to hip, shoulder and foot injuries and his playing status was in doubt going into three games.

Palmer, who this past season matched his career high with 20 interceptions, also has taken some figurative hits from fans. He was booed during the fourth quarter of the Bengals' 24-21 loss to the Buccaneers when it was announced he had surpassed 20,000 career passing yards, and fans have questioned whether he is part of the team's problems.

"I hope it's not mainly because of that," Esiason said. "All of us have been booed."
What's next

Lewis has said the team will get back to the power running game it used in 2009, when the Bengals won the AFC North championship.

But in order to do that you need to have the right players.

Running back Cedric Benson, who has led the team in rushing the past three seasons, is a free agent and has said he won't return if Bratkowski remains as offensive coordinator.

Most of the Bengals' offensive linemen are either in the last year of their contracts or restricted free agents, and only one wide receiver is signed beyond next season.

Owens, who played this past season under a one-year contract, has said he would like to play for a contender and will not be back. Ochocinco will be in the final year of his contract in 2011.

With Palmer's trade request, the Bengals offense would need to be almost completely rebuilt.

The Bengals have no player set to step in for Palmer. Jordan Palmer and Dan LeFevour are the other quarterbacks on their roster.

Options in the draft

When Esiason and another longtime Bengals quarterback, Ken Anderson, were entering their ninth NFL seasons, the team took quarterbacks in the first round of the NFL Draft. Palmer will be entering his ninth season this year.

This year's draft class is without a bona fide can't-miss quarterback prospect. Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, Auburn's Cam Newton, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett and Washington's Jake Locker are expected to be available when the Bengals draft with the No. 4 pick.

It's certainly a different situation for the team than it was in 2003, when the Bengals took Palmer, the Heisman Trophy winner, with the No. 1 pick out of Southern California.

"They had the first pick and Seabiscuit was there," Wilcots said.

Conflict management

Reaching a reconciliation between the Bengals and Palmer, who has indicated he would retire if a trade is not worked out, is unlikely to be as simple as dismissing Bratkowski or signing a player. Critics have questioned the franchise's commitment to winning, pointing to the lack of an indoor practice facility as a prime example.

If Bengals president Mike Brown were to soften his stance and explore a trade for Palmer, the favorite to make the deal seems to be San Francisco. The 49ers have only one quarterback, David Carr, under contract for next season, and Dunn also represents new Niners general manager Trent Baalke and head coach Jim Harbaugh.

The Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks also could be in the mix because of Palmer's desire a return to the West Coast.

As far as what Palmer would be worth, both Wilcots and Esiason think he could be dealt for more than the second- and fourth-round picks the Philadelphia Eagles received last year from the Washington Redskins in exchange for Donovan McNabb. Both think the Bengals could get a first-round pick and middle-round pick.

Esiason thinks Palmer could play another six years, but Palmer's injuries cause concern for some about whether he could pass a physical.

"He can still be a Pro Bowl quarterback. I believe he has those skills," Esiason said. "I don't believe the envioronment has allowed him to showcase his skills."

Said Wilcots, who believes the odds of Palmer remaining with the Bengals at 50/50: "There has been a tremendous breakdown in communication. The only question now is whether he will come back or retire."

(Truly the inmates are running the Bungle asylum for the criminally insane. I actually feel sorry for Palmer and who ever the Bungles draft with the #4 pick. - mesa)

01-31-2011, 12:31 AM
Wondering why it took so long for palmer to demand a trade off the team in the first place?

And if I was the head coach, I would have just said bye, no matter how the FO beg and plead with me to stay another year.

02-03-2011, 03:16 PM
The Bengals have been in a QB quandry for the last several years. Palmer has been avg to below avg since 2005.

02-03-2011, 09:18 PM
Palmer in Arizonia works! Fantasy wise!

02-03-2011, 09:50 PM
Both think the Bengals could get a first-round pick and middle-round pick.