Thursday, March 3, 2011

Farewell, Carson Palmer

So I am wearing my Carson Palmer #9 Bengals Jersey today in honor of Carson Palmer's official retirement. If he hasn't already filed retirement papers with NFL HQ, it's coming soon, despite the looming lockout.

All sources on the NFL Network indicate that Carson is not bluffing. He has between $75-80 million in the bank, he does not have to pay any of those dollars back if he retires, and they are pretty sure he will never play in a Bengals uniform again. Those same sources indicate that the owner/president Mike Brown is not bluffing either. He will not deal Carson because it would set a bad precedent for the future. Brown says he wishes Carson well in his retirement, and plans to move on.

Just how far along does Mike Brown plan to move? The NFL Network reports that the Bengals are making plans to draft a QB in the 2011 draft. This doesn't necessarily mean they will use the #4 pick on QB, but I would bet you money they will in the end. Scratch Cincinnati off your list of landing spots for A.J. Green and Julio Jones. I doubt they are taking a WR with the #4 overall pick. They're going to take a QB; Blaine Gabbert I reckon.

Consider the Bengals draft in 2011. Prior to the crystallization of Carson Palmer's position, experts believed that the Bengals were the first team on the big-board extremely likely to (a) stand pat, and (b) select an offensive player, (c) select A.J. Green. This was the spot where A.J. Green was projected to go. Not now, baby.

You could argue that it was never the case in the first place. Why?

The Bengals have a poor passing game. Of this there can be no doubt. This has been the case for several years now. However, the Bengals have had a pretty good receiver corp, plus or minus 2009. They have a pretty good receiver corp as they enter the 2011 season. They have some Divas, but these are Divas with hands. If this be the case, why then do they have a poor passing game?

Most of us who watch football understand that Carson Palmer has been way off-target and in decline over these past several years. Palmer's accuracy, velocity, reads, and decision making have been questionable. The onus is on Carson Palmer, not the receivers. This makes Palmer's current off-season trade demand even more bizarre. Who wants him? I don't. I'm not trading for him.

Even in a magic world where there is no labor-strife with Carson Palmer, selecting A.J. Green rather than Blaine Gabbert would be a serious strategic blunder for the Bengals. Mike Brown needs to be thinking about his next-gen QB, not another receiver.

Over and against my QB theory is the question of whether Bengals can be expected to make a rational choice in the draft? Can they? I don't know. Sometimes Mike Brown makes very shrewd moves. Sometimes he doesn't. All signs do indicate that Mike Brown is preparing to select a QB in this draft.

The Bengals could select B.J. Green, or they might select Julio Jones. Both receivers are likely to be on the board when their number comes up. Neither pick is advisable. They should select Blaine Gabbert. Logically, this is the spot where Gabbert should go.