Albert Breer is reporting that Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown is still adamant on either keeping QB Carson Palmer or forcing him to retire. If this is true, Palmer's heavily rumored trade to Seattle - already called a "done deal" by some - won't materialize.
I defended these rumors a few weeks ago as more than your idle cyberspeculation. In a nutshell, Palmer is ready to move on from the Bengals and also has a family matter in the Pacific Northwest that's prompted him to move there. He's already sold his house in Cincinnati, and Twitter murmurings have placed his children in the Seattle vicinity. The circumstances simply make Seattle the only feasible town from which he can both attend to his family and continue playing football. He's financially and personally prepared to retire, and has backed up with actions his threat to either retire or be traded to Seattle.
Mike Brown, one of the most stubborn owners in pro football, seems to be opting for the former. The game of chicken will continue as long as the labor dispute does, so we'd hardly expect Brown to admit the trade's existence right now.
Still, I'm starting to have misgivings.
The unique circumstances here put Palmer and the Seahawks in the driver's seat, meaning that Cincinnati is allegedly willing to accept a surprisingly small compensation - a 2012 5th-rounder and 2013 3rd-rounder - for the quarterback. That would be a watershed for Seattle. Basically, the Bengals are willing to be shortchanged because it's better than being mugged.
Cincinnati's drafting of Andy Dalton also seems to argue for a Palmer trade. Should the Bengals go into training camp with both Palmer and Dalton on the roster, they risk a pricey and distracting QB controversy. It wouldn't be worth it to keep both QB's.
So we've got good reasoning as to why it makes no sense for Mike Brown to hold on to Palmer.
But...that leaves us appealing to the good sense of one of the most notoriously hardheaded owners in the league.
If Mike Brown were known for decisions that made sense, would the Bengals be such a famously shabby organization to begin with? They've been run into the ground. They're awfully cheap. Their scouting practices are highly questionable. Brown routinely interferes with field decisions; head coach Marvin Lewis has been refused the control over the team he needs and deserves. The organization has done little to nothing to help Palmer through his injuries, protect him from new ones, or strengthen his receivers arsenal. Their facilities are shameful - they're a northern team and don't even have an indoor practice field. For further insight, you might enjoy this.
That doesn't sound like a guy who we can rely on to decide in the team's best interest.
Something in my gut tells me that Brown might force Palmer to retire purely to avoid setting a bad precedent for the future. If he caves and trades Palmer, no matter what the special circumstances, other players will get a lot bolder with their percolating desires to escape the team. If the franchise QB leaves, it opens the floodgates. Assenting to Palmer's trade request doesn't fit with Brown's image. It would be a coup.
Would a 3rd and a 5th round pick really be better than nothing? Not by draft standards. Most 5th round picks rarely start. Many 3rd-rounders do, but next to a franchise QB, their typical value isn't much. The package Seattle has offered isn't better than nothing - in draft terms, it is nothing. Brown wouldn't be missing much.
And Andy Dalton? His drafting could speak less of an upcoming trade of Palmer and more of an upcoming retirement by Palmer. Mike Brown may simply believe the QB's threat and be drafting a new QB in the expectation that Palmer will follow through.
At this point, my skepticism is slowly bubbling up to the point where I believe the trade rumors only because of multiple independent confirmation. Most of the media is confident that Palmer won't be traded, lending their usual snideness to their dismissals.
I for one find myself hoping they're wrong. Maybe that's just because I hate the average Twitter-pundit, but not entirely. Seattle needs Palmer. A washed-up Palmer is their best option by far now that the draft is past, and there are the connections with head coach Pete Carroll and wide receiver Mike Williams to be mined. But as the infuriating lockout continues and the unlikely nature of this trade impresses itself upon me, I must say that I'm struggling to maintain my optimism.