Bengals right to burn bridge with Palmer
By Michael Rushton, NFL Contributing Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Many hard feelings were put aside when the NFL and its players finally agreed to end the four-plus month lockout, but not all battle lines were withdrawn.
As the Cincinnati Bengals prepared to get back to work on Tuesday, team president Mike Brown continued to stand firm that the club will not give in to quarterback Carson Palmer's trade request.
Though Brown is ultimately doing his team a disservice by both failing to get something in return for an experienced starting quarterback and leaving his team without a veteran of its own to take over the offense, it is still applaudable what he is doing.
We are often reminded that the NFL is a business and a business' job is to make money. Players do that by signing contracts that determine their value and how much they will be paid. In return, the teams are granted a players' service at that amount for the agreed length of time.
Except it never works out that way.
Players who feel they are underpaid often hold out in the hopes of improving their current pay situation despite having signed their own names on the dotted line. But it also goes both ways. Athletes who were maybe overvalued or overpaid to secure their services over another team often don't see their franchise honor out the length of the deal.
Carson Palmer requested a trade back in January.
Brown is refusing to do either. He won't trade Palmer because he said the 31- year-old made a commitment when he signed a six-year extension in 2005 that was slated to keep him with the Bengals through 2014. The team president also won't let Palmer dictate the situation either, opting to let the signal-caller, who surely still has some good years left in his arm and legs, retire rather than give into the demands of a player.
"Carson signed a contract, he made a commitment, he gave his word," said Brown after stating he doesn't expect Palmer back. "We relied on his word. We relied on his commitment. We expected him to perform here. If he's going to walk away from his commitment, we aren't going to reward him for doing it."
Brown, who did say that he likes Palmer and called the first overall pick of the 2003 draft a good person, may be coming off as stubborn, but it is his right to do so.
When Palmer made his request for a trade back in January, he cited a lack of success between him and the Bengals as a reason for parting ways. And while it is true that the city of Cincinnati has seen its team win more than eight games just three times in the past 22 seasons, that didn't stop Palmer from re-upping following an 11-win campaign in 2005.
It also isn't like the Bengals haven't tried to get the quarterback help, even if it came in often frustrating and cocky forms. He has always been surrounded by solid receivers (Chad Ochocinco, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Terrell Owens) and both Rudi Johnson and Cedric Benson have served as workhorses out of the backfield during the quarterback's time with the Bengals.
Yet, that hasn't been enough for Palmer to maybe shoulder some of the blame -- or at least stay happy in his current situation -- and now Brown and head coach Marvin Lewis are being forced to move on.
"We go forward thinking that Carson and the decisions that he's made, he'll stay true to that," Lewis said.
Granted, Palmer is coming off a rough season in which he often drew boos from his own fans and had to deal with the egos of both Ochocinco and Owens. Few can also blame him for losing some of his love for the city after fans littered his front lawn with trash after one game.
The latter can't be defended; stupid fans do stupid things. But as for the players Palmer was surrounded with, it is likely very challenging to find one person who likes every single one of his or her coworkers. And the majority of those people don't make a quarter of what Palmer does.
Though both Brown and Lewis said the club will probably look for a veteran quarterback to add to the mix, the former thinks that 2011 second-round pick Andy Dalton has a chance to nab the starting job after he posted a Mountain West Conference-record 42 career victories with TCU.
"We'll look for a veteran, but we have a good young draft pick in Andy Dalton," said Brown. "We like him. We think he is promising for our future. Yes, he'll have teething problems. It won't be altogether easy for him all the time, but we're going to put him in there and if he can do it, we're going to go with him."
One thing working for Dalton is he is considered a great fit for the West Coast system being installed under new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.
But if the Bengals do make the switch, they'll be going from a quarterback who has thrown 3,217 NFL passes, logged a pair of 4,000-yard seasons and amassed 154 touchdown throws in 97 games to a 23-year-old rookie.
That isn't likely to turn around Cincinnati's recent run of mediocrity, but it will be Palmer -- not Brown -- who will shoulder most of that criticism.