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New NFL Salary Plan Could Open a Window for Carson Palmer to Escape Cincinnati in 2012

When it came to the struggle between former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer and team owner Mike Brown, we've always known what the end result of the conflict would be -- Brown would say no to Palmer's trade demand and Palmer would retire.

However, people began to wonder if there would be another way for Palmer to force his way out of Cincinnati, not by pleading with Brown but by affecting his wallet. We wanted to know if Palmer could force Brown's hand by showing up when the season started, after the Bengals had already drafted his replacement in the first or second round, and made the Bengals shell out his $11.5 million for the year. Could Brown afford to pay Palmer his large contract and pay another top-round quarterback at the same time? If not, he may be forced to give into Palmer's trade demand.

According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, that won't happen in 2011 due to the raise of the salary floor, but it doesn't mean it can't happen in 2012.

Don't count on that happening this year. The increased spending requirement won't require teams to spend the money now. The Bengals can hold that cap space deep into the regular season, eventually using to extend the contracts of players already on the team. And as as they're holding at least $11.5 million (or whatever the prorated amount would be after regular-season games have been played), the Bengals will be prepared to block a Carson Palmer power play.

Come 2012, things could be very different. If at any point in the offseason or the preseason the Bengals have fewer than $11.5 million in cap room, Palmer can unretire and force the Bengals to let him go.

We aren't planning on hearing the news that Brown will trade Palmer once the lockout is lifted so it seems that if Palmer wants out of Cicninnati before his actual contract comes to an end after 2014, forcing his way out by asking for money that the Bengals don't have is likely his best bet.

However, what if Mike Brown sees this coming? It's possible that he'll do whatever he can to make sure there's just enough money to pay Palmer if he decides to show up one day. Either way, it's not like the Carson Palmer-Mike Brown drama will go away once the 2011 season begins. Unfortunately, this is something that we'll probably be talking about for the next couple years.


So, while the Bengals take the field in 2011 once the lockout is ended, Palmer will likely be sitting in a dark room somewhere in his home, waiting for the right moment to make his move.