The problem with being stubborn is that it can hinder productivity and progression. The Bengals and their beleaguered fans are likely about to get a harsh lesson in why a fear of change ultimately leads to a decline in the on-field product.
Carson Palmer laid down his ultimatum long ago, telling Bengals owner Mike Brown that if he’s still a Bengal next fall, he’d rather retire than wear those hideous stripes again. That’s not news, and it hasn’t been since December. What’s troubling is that the stubbornness of both Brown and Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis continues, even though Palmer’s stance hasn’t changed.
Earlier today Lewis had a conference call with Bengals season ticket holders. Inevitably he was asked about Palmer’s future and the team’s plans next season at the quarterback position. The Bengals are losing wide receiver Terrell Owens to free agency, and they may also lose Chad Ochocinco to stupidity. But in the first two rounds of this year’s draft Lewis et al selected stud receiver A.J. Green and quarterback Andy Dalton, putting in place the offensive pieces to rebuild sans Palmer.
Judging by what Lewis told the most loyal of Bengals fans today, the organization seems to have accepted the reality that they won’t have Palmer next year. Which is good, sort of. They just haven’t accepted a different reality: that getting something for Palmer is far better than watching a former franchise quarterback rot, with his trade value plummeting.
Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer relayed Lewis’ remarks regarding Palmer:
Lewis on if Palmer is going to be traded: “We’re not going to entertain that thing publicly. You sign a contract and you’re bound to the length of the contract. Guys have the opportunity to retire and walk away and that’s the situation that Carson is in.”
Lewis on why Palmer wants out: “I’ve talked with Carson a number of times and he feels like his time here is over. He feels like the best thing is to retire and spend time with family. The good thing for us is this decision was made in January. From that we benefited.”
Lewis on Chad’s future: “That’s not a question I’m going to answer at any point. He’s under contract. We’re not in a position to do anything else and that’s where it stands.”
So Palmer still won’t be traded, and he’s more than ready to spend his Sundays twirling a frisbee and enjoying mangos and pomegranate in a delectable symphony of fruit during a weekly California picnic. We’re sure all retired quarterbacks do this, and it sounds like a delightful way to spend your golden years at the age of 31.
The other significant comment Lewis made was that if by some miracle Palmer does come back, he’ll still be the team’s starting quarterback. But as Cincy Jungle points out, likely the only scenario in which Palmer struts on to the Bengals’ practice field in August (assuming there is practice in August) is if he comes down with a bad case of Favre-syndrome.
So for those of you keeping score at home, we now have a set of comments made by a coach that can be molded to fit whatever viewpoint on the Palmer debacle that you’d like. In a locked out offseason where boredom makes headlines, this has become commonplace.
At least one player thinks the Bengals shouldn’t even be entertaining the idea of allowing Palmer to come back in the unlikely event that his mind changes. Running back Cedric Benson told NFL Radio that Palmer returning would be unhealthy.
“To bring him back would be detrimental to the team. If he’s there and not happy he’s not gonna give us his best.”
Preach it, Cedric.
Palmer has four years left on a $118.5 million contract extension signed back in 2005, and he’s already done enough damage to his trade value with his play in 2010. In Brown’s mind, the logical solution to a player challenging a commitment to a contract is to strip said player of any appeal he has throughout the league, and turn down a chance to acquire useful draft picks for a team that’s low on reasons to smile about the future.
That makes about as much sense as having an outdoor practice facility in Ohio.