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Could Palmer Copy Favre's "Retirement" Strategy?

Cincinnati Bengals Owner/Master of Disaster Mike Brown today confirmed that the potential cancellation of the 2011 NFL season due to the league’s ongoing labor dispute may actually constitute a best-possible-scenario for Bengals fans.

Carson Palmer has no shortage of critics among Bengals fans, but the fact remains that the team has no better options on the roster, and the labor mess is likely to limit their ability to change that. Without a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), there’s no free agency in which to find a veteran stop-gap. And even if they draft a QB, without a new CBA the team can’t bring him in and teach him the system. In short, if Carson calls it a career, the Bengals’ "best" options consist of his younger brother Jordan or third-stringer Dan LaFevour.

If Carson does return, I can’t imagine now that he would be happy about it. It’s one thing to have a disgruntled wide receiver or running back. But a starting QB who wants out? That can’t end well.

Would Palmer actually retire? Two words: Brett Favre.

When Favre "retired" from the New York Jets after the 2008 season, his departure freed up $13 million in cap space for the cap-strapped Jets. So when Farve requested that the team release him from their reserve/retired list a couple months later, the Jets didn’t have much choice. Had Brett un-retired, the Jets would have been forced to gut the roster to free up the cap space again, or let Favre go anyhow.

Carson, who is due $11 million in 2011, could be contemplating a similar course of action. Whenever a new CBA is finally reached, it will almost certainly include a salary cap. And with a "retired" Carson sitting in California, the Bengals would have to stay substantially under the cap for years in order to prevent Carson from forcing his release by coming out of retirement.

Of course, having a built-in excuse to spend $11 million less than everyone else would probably be just fine with Brown.