On Second Thought: Carson Palmer Return Isn't Really That Interesting

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

We've brought up the topic several times this week, but when we really sit down and think about it, Carson Palmer's return to Cincinnati isn't really that big of a deal anymore.

There's reason that the Cincinnati Bengals circled this date on the calendar, minutes (seconds!), after the NFL released the 2012 regular season schedule. Deep personal affection mutated into petty black-hearted spite, approaching a date that fanaticism could breach the boundaries of common decency. Don't take your kids to the ballpark this week.

It's not called Oakland Raiders week, or the mere mundane game against the Raiders. It's Carson Palmer Week; as fans we're obviously hopeful that the Bengals focus on the Raiders team, unlike us who will be focusing on the royal dicketry of a once beloved quarterback who at one time instigated misplaced phrases such as "promised land." It's going to be bad. Really bad. Keep the kids as far away form Paul Brown Stadium as possible.

On second thought, maybe that's not entirely necessary, nor the pulse of what's transpired since.

That era has long expired, replaced by a new even more hopeful generation of players; broadcasting optimistic idealism than what the Palmer-era Bengals had ever hoped for. There's stability, balance and humble personalities. Fantastically more, a disgruntled quarterback threatening to retire transformed into the acquisition of two-value picks and the necessity to draft a quarterback during the 2011 NFL draft. In what could be viewed as one final middle finger to the recently deceased Al Davis (at the time), the Bengals and Mike Brown capped everything by signing former Raiders head coach Hue Jackson; one of the architects of the deal.

All things considered it worked out in Cincinnati.

2012 Andy Dalton Carson Palmer
CMP 221 252
ATT 344 415
CMP % 64.2% 60.7%
Yards 2,559 3,035
Avg. 7.4 7.3
TD 20 17
INT 11 11
Rating 92.7 85.8

I asked Levi Damien with SB Nation's Silver and Black Pride this week his initial reaction to the trade, which went down on October 18, 2011.

"My initial reaction was that it was expensive but necessary," Damien said. "It was a tragic situation for the Raiders from a football perspective. They lost Jason Campbell two days before the trade deadline. They tried to sign David Garrard but he immediately announced his shoulder was shot and he needed surgery to fix it so that option was out. That left just one day remaining to get a quarterback. The Raiders had no faith in Kyle Boller (which makes you wonder why he was even on the roster) so they had to do something. Carson Palmer was the only guy out there who was proven, Hue Jackson had experience working with him and was well acquainted with the Bengals front office."

By this time during the process the Bengals had already placed Palmer on the Reserve/Did Not Report list, making him an exemption on the 53-man roster while freezing his salary from the books. Additionally the Andy Dalton Bengals had just entered their Week Seven Bye riding a three-game winning steak and an unexpected 4-2 start. Palmer had lost his leverage and the Bengals were open to making the trade. And it just so happened that the Raiders, also in the postseason hunt at 4-2, desperately needed a quarterback and faced this dilemma at the wrong time.

"Mike Brown had made it clear he was not going to be giving up Carson Palmer without the proverbial offer he couldn't refuse," Damien continues. "So Hue Jackson either had to put a horse's head in his bed or shell out a bounty. The Bengals were in the power position and forced Jackson and the Raiders to make a tough decision. That is how I saw it then and that is how I see it now."

It's actually how we viewed it, even inviting some prominent national writers in the NFL with an unusual Mike Brown nomination for Executive of the Year; an award that was eventually awarded by the Pro Football Writers of America to San Francisco 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke.

Was the trade worth it, I asked Levi.

"Is he worth a first and second round pick? Probably not. But there have been worse deals made for less proven commodities. He has also been a great teammate and leader along with putting up big numbers in the West Coast offense. If the Raiders could get a few other pieces working properly, he will have success."

Now Palmer has settled into Oakland, signing a manageable four-year deal worth $43 million with $7.5 million guaranteed. And for his part, the former No. 1 overall draft pick is generating his highest passer rating since 2007, while on pace to nudge the 5,000-yard passing mark. Good for him.

In the meantime the Bengals and fans have settled into the Andy Dalton era with the main topic of conversation for a second-year being postseason opportunities, making the proper course correction at the right time.

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