Inevitably people will complain that there's entirely too much Carson Palmer coverage. No doubt. But we don't dictate the news cycles, nor do we manipulate the important headlines of the offseason. And it's not like we've completely disregarded other aspects of the team. We've spoken about the draft, the Combine, our lack of depth at safety and two big-name players that could possibly enter free agency whenever the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement is resolved -- something else we've talked about. But the biggest headline this offseason, by far, is Palmer demand to be traded. That being said, we wanted to weigh in on the issue.
Will Palmer Retire If He's Not Traded?
I'll be honest, I still question this. Let's go through the series of events. On January 23, 2011, ESPN Insider Chris Mortensen reported that Carson Palmer is demanding a trade or he'll play the retirement card. A day later, Palmer's agent, David Dunn released a statement that said a mutual split would be beneficial to both parties. There was no hint in Dunn's statement that even hinted at retirement. A report surfaced on February 9 that Carson Palmer is putting his Indian Hill home on the market with his realtor saying, "He's not coming back." On February 11, Geoff Hobson wrote that Carson Palmer didn't say a word about retirement to Bengals owner Mike Brown during their mid-January meeting in which he requested a trade. During an interview with 950 KLR's Dave Mahler, David Dunn never spoke in anything more than generalities, only allowing that "it would be very surprising if he" came back to Cincinnati. Then earlier this week, a confidant of Carson Palmer spoke for him saying, "I will never step foot in Paul Brown Stadium again."
In short: Mortensen announced the trade, Dunn has yet to actually hint at Palmer retiring if he's not traded, a realtor said he's not coming back and an unnamed "confidant" spoke for Palmer that he's not returning.
There's only two parts in all of this that you should absorb with any credibility. Chris Mortensen's initial report and the lack of Carson Palmer refuting anything being reported. There's no doubt that he has threatened to retire. But will that resolve turn into action? Until Carson Palmer is the one talking, I'll remain suspicious that he'd actually retire if he's not traded.
Can The Bengals Succeed If Palmer Doesn't Play For The Bengals In 2011?
Short answer, yes.
Mind you, we're not Palmer haters. We're anything but that. We have to examine the issue because it's a possibility -- though who really knows how probable. However, he's not irreplaceable and if the franchise quarterback doesn't want to play for the franchise, then why is there faction of fans ripping into other fans that don't mind if Palmer leaves? Everyone, except that faction, wants him to leave, including Palmer himself. And it's not like the Bengals came off a winning season with another playoff appearance. They only won four games in 2010; the same amount of games won by a Ryan Fitzpatrick led offense in 2008. Simplistic comparison? Probably, considering there's different elements to both squads. Yet, quarterbacks are measured with wins, as emphasized by the franchise's father in Paul Brown.
That's not to say that Palmer isn't a very good quarterback; he seems to still have it. You don't throw for nearly 4,000 yards passing, complete over 60% of your passes and post 26 touchdowns if you "don't still have it." At the same time, the excuses for Palmer's overall struggle has dated back for several years. The reason the offense struggled in 2010 were wide receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco and former offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski. In 2009, the excuse was that the team revised the offensive philosophy to a run-first offense, making Palmer's need for effectiveness in the pass game less emphasized. Yet the team went 1-4 in their final five games that year, including the Wild Card playoff loss at the end of the season, largely because the passing offense was ineffective. Save for the 293 yards passing against the San Diego Chargers, the Bengals passing offense recorded 91 yards against the Vikings, zero yards against the Jets in the regular season finale (Palmer completed one of 11 passes in that game) and 110 yards in the team's 24-14 playoff loss to the same team. Defenses often stacked the line of scrimmage to slow down the team's rushing offense and the passing offense couldn't take advantage.
And the excuses before all of that were the injuries; his knee against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006 and his throwing elbow against the New York Giants in 2008.
We're not ripping Palmer here. We're not. But Palmer hasn't played to a certain level that would suggest the team's measure of success completely rests his shoulders. They don't. But that's not to say the Bengals will need time to retool at the position by signing a veteran free agent and drafting a quarterback that could give the team some stability for a couple of years.
Why Are Fans Upset With Palmer?
During last year's mediocre season by Palmer, there were just as many people hoping the Bengals would move on past that Palmer era that are now upset he's demanding a trade. The truth is, I don't believe that fans are upset just because Palmer is demanding a trade. As most fans would agree, it's hard to argue against Palmer's demand after experiencing eight seasons with an organization run by an owner that's often disregarded as cheap and stubborn enough not to do what is necessary to implement the tools needed to established sustained success.
Setting aside that he wants to leave our city and team, people are very disappointed because the expectations were so much higher with Palmer. After seven seasons as a starting quarterback, Palmer compiled a 46-51 record with no playoff wins. Now instead of that annual hopeful feeling that Palmer will finally turn it around this year, the Bengals are left with no starting quarterback.