During Sunday's NFL Countdown, Chris Mortensen broke news that Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer is demanding a trade and will play the "retirement card" if he doesn't get what he wants. You knew that already, didn't you? Well.
My initial reaction, while not entirely too upsetting, surprised me with the level of resolve on Palmer's demands. You'll play the retirement card, will you? The legendary eyebrow of suspicion that The Rock copied from The Kirk weakens the lady's knees. Really. Anyway, this is a guy that calmly sits in front of the press after every loss and puts the blame squarely on his shoulders. This is a guy that points out that it was the team that won, not him, often crediting the defense, the offensive line or the running game. This is a guy that merely shows emotion during games when a receiver runs the wrong route, and even then, sometimes is joined with a sour face of rejection that a husband might display after being denied the mancave remodeling project.
This is also a guy that witnessed Chad Ochocinco's demand for a trade, ripped the wide receiver for not being more team-oriented and saw Mike Brown give no ground, forcing the wide receiver to eventually return. That being said, Palmer played his card anyway.
Unless he has no interest whatsoever, the team's franchise quarterback observed everything within the organization since the final snap during the team's 13-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. A prolonged Marvin Lewis negotiation played through the media, complete with promised, yet unsubstantiated changes that have been so generalized that the paying public -- in the form of season-ticket holders -- are planning to abandon their posts because they believe Mike Brown and the Bengals front office blowing smoke up our, well, noses.
We can assume that Palmer wants those frustrations within the organization resolved as much as Bengals fans. We can assume that most of those resolutions mirror the ambitious yet antagonistic attitude that Marvin Lewis has towards the offense, recently saying that there's no identity. Oddly, it's the exact same thing other players have said publicly already.
Carson Palmer, frustrated of the team's recent inconsistencies, has planned out his tactics. The question is, does he really have the resolve. And the question after that is, does Mike Brown and the Bengals front office have the resolve to make the quarterback happy?
Whatever it is, I do not believe that Palmer sat at the kitchen table, at 2 a.m. in the morning, drawing up a strategic plan to get out of Cincinnati all by himself. He would have to know that Mike Brown would not let him go just because he's disgruntled. Additionally, Palmer's sudden demands quickly draw a picture of the same elitist of most players that's reacted just like he has.
But more importantly, does Palmer actually believe that another team will bother taking on his $50 million remaining in base salary and giving up a high draft pick? Sure, he could renegotiate, but it's not like he's going to play for a new Dell laptop and a box of Raisinets. He's going to be paid substantially and the team would still have to give up a high draft pick that could be used for a much younger and healthier quarterback. Let's see. Aging quarterback that's declined in performance and health in each of the past five years with a high price tag and draft pick, or younger healthier quarterback that will be signed to a rookie wage scale when a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed? If you were one of those teams entertaining a trade for Palmer, which would you select?
Either Palmer is that arrogant or stupid to actually think teams would be that willing to go out and acquire Palmer. Even fans of the Carolina freaking Panthers think he's, at most, a stopgap quarterback.
No. Palmer isn't stupid. He's far from arrogant. If it weren't for Lewis' recent demands before signing with the team, perhaps I would believe outright that Palmer's demands were from a source to leave Cincinnati no matter what. But I don't. In my conspiratorial mind, something else is at play here, such as Palmer positioning himself to publicly force the Bengals organization to make those changes. Quarterback and head coach meet in the lockerroom in July with a high five and a "we did it." But I suppose that's optimistic in the sense that the team is rallying around each other to do the fan's bidding for once -- to force The Family's hand to make those changes. Could it be that awesome?
Or perhaps everything is just as we see it and life of a Bengals fan continues walking with a limp, a hunched back while the Steelers head to another Super Bowl.