CINCINNATI - DECEMBER 26: Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass during the NFL game against the San Diego Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium on December 26 2010 in Cincinnati Ohio. The Bengals 34-20. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Martin Shatzer of DC's SB Nation regional site suggests that a straight-up Carson Palmer for Donovan McNabb trade could benefit both the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins. The point is logical. Understood in the context of needs moving forward when the new league year kicks off with fireworks, orgies and half-price sales at Half-Priced Books.
From a Bengals perspective, Donovan McNabb gives the Bengals a veteran quarterback that bridges the gap between Palmer and rookie Andy Dalton. It achieves one of the team's needs by finding a way to trade Palmer out of Cincinnati. Makes sense, you have to admit and we're on board with the theory because quite frankly, the Bengals need to trade Palmer while also leaving the door open for a veteran quarterback to start the season.
Now I'm going to tell you why it's a bad idea.
Trading Carson Palmer just to trade him is short-sighted and irrational. Yes, he needs to be traded. The commentary and questions that would follow this team throughout training camp, the preseason and deep into the regular season could be suffocating. With the youth movement happening in Cincinnati, the organization just doesn't need the distraction.
Yet, Palmer still has value.
True. Carson Palmer might be a shadow of what was, an elite quarterback with that title violently ripped away. But let's also consider last season for a moment. Often believed one of his worse seasons, he still posted the sixth-most yards passing in the league, ranked in the top-ten in passing touchdowns and in the top-five in passes that picked up first downs. He did throw 20 interceptions, yet 12 of those picks came when he tried too hard accommodating Terrell Owens. He led the Bengals offense on a 22-point third quarter (one touchdown scored on defense) against the Atlanta Falcons, erasing a 21-point half time deficit. Cincinnati would fall short, mostly because Atlanta scored on a Cedric Benson fumble. Down early by 17 points against the Indianapolis Colts, Palmer and the Bengals came within a single possession while down by six points, nearly generating one of the season's biggest upsets against a team the Bengals haven't beaten since 1997. Thanks to a Jermaine Gresham fumble, the possession ended. Palmer led the Bengals on a 14-point crusade against the Pittsburgh Steelers, coming 12 yards short of an upset during Monday Night Football.
Against the San Diego Chargers, when Chad Ochocinco and Owens didn't play, Palmer posted four touchdown passes and a career-high 157.2 passer rating in a Chargers must-win game. He followed that up with 305 yards passing against the Baltimore Ravens defense, completing 71.1% of his passes. My point? When Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens didn't play, Palmer was a vastly better quarterback with younger receivers running the proper routes without the burden of making sure two star receivers didn't get their quota of attempted receptions each week.
When removing Donovan McNabb's name, checking out his production from last season, you're hardly thinking to yourself, "now that's a quarterback for my team." McNabb's 77.1 quarterback rating ranked 24th in the NFL and according to Pro Football Focus, McNabb was rated as the league's 31st best quarterback. Worse than Troy Smith, Vince Young, Jason Campbell and Chad Henne yet barely better than Jimmy Clausen and Alex Smith. According to Football Outsider's, McNabb's DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) ranked 24th in the NFL (Palmer ranked 10th). In less statistical glory, McNabb is a quarterback that's barely rated higher than your average replacement player. Palmer ranked better across the board, often as a top-ten quarterback in the NFL.
For the better part last season, most of what happened in Washington consisted of Donovan McNabb updates, while slumping around the practice field and watching a guy like Rex Grossman beat him for the starting job. And that's another thing. He was beaten out by Grossman. One could argue that Mike Shanahan just didn't like McNabb, but we have a hard time believing a head coach would replace his starting quarterback if he didn't feel he was a liability. Like in the fourth quarter.
Carson Palmer's absence would definitely bring its own distractions to the team, but so would McNabb.
Yes. Palmer is still a very good quarterback and it's a shame that his career has come to this point, retiring if he's not traded. Give me a team with a sudden need for a quarterback after their own franchise quarterback suffers a season-ending injury. Palmer's value goes through the roof and Mike Brown's conjectured (and largely unrealistic) demand for two first round picks inches closer to a more feasible reality. Trading McNabb right now for Palmer gives us an aging quarterback, who was damn good earlier in his career, that won't even complete the season as he gives way to Andy Dalton, likely on his way out of Cincinnati by this time next year. You're essentially getting nothing in return, losing the only value you had in Palmer when McNabb leaves.
Now say if the Bengals receive a draft pick and McNabb for Palmer, then we can talk. Straight up trade? No. Cincinnati loses. And trading Palmer just to trade him would be too much on par with the Mike Brown theory that you don't get maximum value -- (read: letting top free agents leave for other teams). That doesn't mean that the Bengals shouldn't trade Palmer. No. They have to. But they can get better value.