Let me paint you a picture with my imagination brush. Carson Palmer is standing in a room alone with you. In this room there are three doors. One door is labeled "elite". Payton Manning just poked his head out of that door and asked you for change for a dollar so he and Drew Brees can play pool. The next door is labeled "eh" and you notice Jay Cutler laying outside of the door in the fetal position, crying because he was sent to the "eh" room and not the "elite" room (and by crying, I mean he's demanding a trade because he thinks he's better than eh). The last door is labeled "hit or miss". From behind the door, you can hear the voices of Josh Freeman and Trent Edwards discussing who's team is worse. Palmer looks at you and asks you where he should go.
What do you tell him?
Don't answer that quite yet. Let me tell you what an expert thinks first and why. If it was John Clayton who was in that room with Palmer, Clayton would tell him to head to the "elite" room where he could hang out with the likes of Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Tony Romo, Phillip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. That's a pretty solid list of signal callers. One may ask, why does Palmer deserve to be in that room with the season that he had last year? Clayton explains.
The additions of Terrell Owens, Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley could allow Palmer to relive his 4,000-yard days. Marvin Lewis prefers running the ball, but Palmer would love for the Bengals' offense to open up.
Here's why I would put him in the same spot that Clayton does. He's got the talent and ability to play just as good as anybody else in that room with him. He's got a good arm, he's smart, he's accurate and he can read a defense. Those are all the things required of a quarterback to win in the NFL. All he needs is the supporting cast to allow him to do his job the best that he can. Last year, he didn't have that. He didn't have a deep threat, after the loss of Chris Henry, he didn't have a reliable no. 2 receiver and he didn't have a tight end. This year, he has all of those things and if the offensive line can give him time to throw like they did in the first half of the Buffalo game, Palmer can make any fantasy football player without him on their roster kick themselves.
Now answer the question. What room would you put Palmer in?