As the NFL and NFLPA's relationship continues to spiral downward towards a lockout and a courtroom, every team owner, every player and, most of all, every fan will be affected. The league, that we, the fans, have hoisted up to be on top of all other professional sports leagues in America, is now in danger of destroying itself with greed.
The Bengals, like all other teams, will be affected in their own way, and that way will be Carson Palmer.Bengals owner, president, GM, emperor and dark lord has vehemently stated publicly that if Palmer plays, it will be for Cincinnati or he can retire, even after Palmer said, through a confidant, that he would never step foot in Paul Brown Stadium again. However, even if the Bengals decided to change their minds, do what would be best for the franchise, and take Palmer's demand seriously, by trading him, an lockout would prevent them from doing so. They wouldn't have the power to trade anybody, or re-sign players like Cedric Benson, Johnathan Joseph, Dhani Jones or Brian Leonard.
When the draft rolls around in April, they would be forced to draft for need instead of draft the best player available because they wouldn't be able to utilize free agency to fill some holes in their roster. Regardless of who the best player available is when the Bengals are on the clock, the Bengals, and the other teams in the same position, would be forced to draft the best player at the position they need the most. In the Bengals case, that may be the quarterback position.
So, brace yourselves, if the Bengals are uncomfortable with allowing Jordan Palmer or Dan LeFevour to take the offensive reigns in 2011, like they should be, and if the NFL is still in lockout mode when the draft rolls around, and if Carson Palmer is still planning or retiring, the Bengals may be forced to draft a quarterback early in the first round and then let him start his rookie year.
The Bengals are in a mess right now and, unfortunately, their best chance of digging their way out of the hole they're in was probably to trade Palmer when they had the chance. However, that window will close tonight at midnight and the Bengals will have to move forward with more questions than there are answers to. Now, the only ways out of the situation they're in are to hope for a quick resolution to the labor negotiations so they can work to fill holes in their roster, possibly at quarterback, via free agency, or hope that Palmer decides he wouldn't mind stepping foot in Paul Brown Stadium again as a Bengals.
If those two options don't workout, they can find a new quarterback in the draft and let him start immediately (which doesn't usually work out), or they can just hope the lockout lasts until next spring and start all over again in 2012.
ESPN's Rick Reilly wrote the Bengals fans are one of the few winners in a lockout, saying:
WINNERS: Cincinnati Bengals fans. Only thing worse than not getting to watch the Bengals is having to watch the Bengals.
Is he right?