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Carson Palmer Has One Play Remaining: Salary Cap Number Could Force Trade Next Season

ESPN NFL Insider John Clayton joined ESPN radio's Scott Van Pelt show this afternoon, following another ridiculous press conference in which Bengals owner Mike Brown declared Carson Palmer retired. Brown went so far as to say that he wouldn't reward a player by trading him for walking away from an agreement. Ridiculous, huh? As Lance McAlister suggested, I wonder how many players the Bengals cut their commitments from by releasing them. We'll dig into that later, when our blood cools to just a simmer rather than the explosive boils that are currently popping out of our skin.

Clayton made one interesting point that we wanted to share, calling the 2011 season simply a "sabbatical", not a retirement, for Palmer. Why? Because Palmer still has one play remaining, even though to make it, he has to sit out this year.

So what I look at this as a sabbatical for Carson Palmer. He'll come back next year when they're going to be close to the cap, after the season, plant his $11.5 million salary on their salary cap and at that point, he'll be able to move on.

With the salary floor forcing teams to spend nearly 90% of the salary cap, along with Palmer's $11.5 million, it could put the Bengals in a bind when he decides to return, forcing the Bengals hand to either release or trade him to free up that money -- even with the dead money applied, it would still be a savings. We're not exactly sure how much it would affect the total cap, but Palmer's cap number would be the highest on the team no matter what contracts are already signed or will be signed this year.

The unfortunate thing for the Bengals is that his value will go down. Along with the perception of quitting on his team (and teammates) with a high-value contract, Palmer will miss a full season in the NFL. Granted, he might be just as good or better than many of the quarterbacks in the NFL next season, he'll also come with little value and teams won't spend the high draft picks to acquire him.