Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported this morning that Bengals QB Carson Palmer has asked to be traded from the club. He has threatened to retire if the team doesn’t comply. This news can potentially effect the Bills in a few different ways.
To get you up to date on Carson, I’ll give you some history. Palmer was drafted 1st overall out of USC in 2003. The Bengals decided to red-shirt him his first NFL season, having Palmer hold a clipboard and learn while Jon Kitna led the team. Palmer took over in ’04 and took his lumps. He had an up-and-down season that year, but the team had a young nucleus of playmakers. In 2005, Palmer exploded. With then Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and RB Rudi Johnson providing balance, Palmer threw for 3,800+, 32 TDs, and only 12 picks. The honeymoon season ended early, with the eventual Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers taking them out in the Wild Card round. To add injury to insult, Steelers DE Kimo Von Oelhoffen hit Palmer low, destroying his knee and ending any chance of the Bengals competing in that game.
Since that moment, Palmer has been nagged by injuries and inconsistencies. Statistically, he had a good season in 2006, but he was sacked 36 times and the hits started taking their toll. While he put up another solid year in ’07, his interception total jumped to 20 (from 13 in ’06). In 2008, he only started 4 games before getting shut down for the year. He dealt with a nagging elbow injury.
2009 brought about a new role for Carson. The Bengals became a run-oriented offense behind the newly signed RB Cedric Benson. Palmer wasn’t asked to go out and put the team on his shoulders like in the past. The team was able to muscle their way into the post-season, before losing to the Jets in the first round. In 2010, Palmer actually threw for almost 3,970 yards and 26 TDs, but he also threw 20 picks and misfired on some critical throws in clutch situations.
Now (finally), let’s talk about how this affects the Bills.
As to the notion that we should acquire him, I wouldn’t be mad about it, but I also don’t think it’s a wise move. He is a solid NFL QB that can play the game at an above-average level. He has dealt with some nagging injuries that affect his play, but, with the exception of the ’08 season, he’s started 16 games every season since the start of ’05. I also think he’ll benefit greatly from being away from Chad Ocho Cinco. However, he’s 31 years old. He’ll stay on the field, but he’s pretty battered from years of playing behind a below-average line in terms of pass protection. He gets happy feet in the pocket at times, feeling the rush before he should. Sometimes this changes with a fresh start, but once QBs lose their “shot clock,” it’s hard to get back. Coming off a near 4k season, I’d be very surprised if he could be had for anything less than a 2nd round pick. To be fair, he is an upgrade over Fitzpatrick (who I’m sure hates the idea of sitting the pine behind Palmer again), but not enough so where we should trade a high pick for him.
I feel like he could end up being a big factor as to whether or not we can move around on draft day. The Bengals are picking 4th, the Cardinals are picking 5th, and the 49ers are picking 7th. Suppose the Bengals ship off Palmer to reunite with his old USC coach in Seattle. The Bengals are now in the market for a QB with that pick. With the Bills sitting at 3, the Cardinals and the Niners both know they’ll have to swap with us if they want their pick of the litter. We should be able to pick up a 2nd round pick in the process. If Peterson and Fairley are off the board at that point, that’s barely a discussion if I’m running the draft. If either somehow drops, then this becomes tough. We could use a higher impact guy, but that’s one more talented player we can add with an early Day Two pick. If Arizona moves up it would be the 38th pick and if the 49ers move up it would be the 45th pick.
UPDATE: As is standard protocol when an NFL team is trying to maintain trade leverage (if they are indeed willing to trade a player), the Bengals have said they are not trading Carson.