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Owner Mike Brown confirmed on Monday that the 31-year-old quarterback asked for a trade a little more than a week ago.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter first reported on Sunday that Palmer wanted to be traded and will contemplate retirement if he does not get his wish.
Sources familiar with Palmer's plan and mindset told Mortensen and Schefter that the veteran signal caller believes he is financially secure for the rest of his life and willing to follow through and retire.
But Brown told reportes today he told Palmer the team wouldn’t trade him because he’s central to its plans.
“He was told that, and that we count on him going forward,” Brown told the Cincinnati Enquirer and the team’s website in Mobile, Ala. “He was told that we are not in a position to trade him.”
But make no mistake about it: Palmer has decided it’s time to move on.
Palmer's agent, David Dunn, released a statement in Monday saying that “because of the lack of success that Carson and the Bengals have experienced together, Carson strongly feels that a separation between him and the Bengals would be in the best interest of both parties.”
As Kay reminded readers, Palmer was the franchise’s building block when it made him the first overall pick in 2003, Marvin Lewis’ first season as coach. He led the Bengals to the playoffs in 2005 and 2009—their only winning records in the last 20 years— and rebounded from severe knee and elbow injuries along the way.
As Kay further suggested, Palmer's trade request is another telling moment for a franchise coming off a 4-12 season that was in many ways its most disappointing. Lewis’ contract was up, but he decided to stay even though Brown refused to make any significant changes in how the team operates.
Brown, Lewis and the staff are in Alabama to coach players for the Senior Bowl.
During the taping of an episode of “The T.Ocho Show” that was scheduled to air Tuesday night (Jan. 25) on the Versus cable network, receiver Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens said Palmer was unhappy with Lewis and the front office.
“If he’s asking for a trade, he obviously wasn’t comfortable with the rehiring of Marvin Lewis,” said Owens, who is a free agent. “He’s been very stealth and discreet with his message, but he’s saying there’s a problem without saying there’s a problem.”
“At this point, I think he’s frustrated with management and the head coach, management not embracing him. ... A bunch of stuff,” said Ochocinco, who also might not be back next season.
ESPN.com AFC North blogger James Walker was among those unsurprised by the development.
In December, Walker reported that Palmer would not accept a pay cut to remain with the Bengals in 2011. That news seemed to foreshadow Palmer's level of unhappiness. It appears things have gotten worse since then, especially with Palmer now threatening retirement.
As Walker wrote: "I've seen player after player in Cincinnati eventually grow unhappy with the consistent losing. Palmer is one of the most patient and optimistic players I've ever covered, but it looks like he's officially been 'Bengalized.'"
At the very least, Palmer’s request is an indication he doesn’t think the team can win the way it currently operates.
Brown said they didn’t get into specifics of what was bothering Palmer.
“We’ll just have to see how it plays out,” Brown said. “We’ll reach out to him and understand the things that are in his craw. Maybe there are things we can do that will appeal to him. We’ll try to and see whether he can get it fit back together in the future.”
Brown has a history of refusing players’ requests for trades. When Ochocinco tried to get traded before the 2008 season, Brown dug in. Ochocinco expects the same to happen with his quarterback.
“Carson isn’t going anywhere … relax,” Ochocinco tweeted on Monday.
Palmer has few options if the team decides it wants to keep him. The question is how having an unhappy quarterback will affect the organization.
Brown thinks they can still coexist.
“The life of a pro quarterback is not always easy,” Brown said. “When you’re down the criticism will flare up. That’s the nature of our business. We want him to re-up, be in good spirits and in time he’ll come around. This was a deeply disappointing season for us, we have all suffered from it. I think we will rebound.”
All that said. ... Who might be interested if Brown and the Bengals had a change of heart and began entertaining offers?
Mortensen and Schefter noted several teams will be in the market for quarterbacks this offseason.
Seattle will have an opening at quarterback if the Seahawks can't re-sign Matt Hasselbeck. Palmer won the Heisman Trophy for now-Seahawks coach Pete Carroll at USC in 2002.
San Francisco, where his wife was raised, and Arizona could also be options.
Indeed, NFL Network insider Mike Lombardi expects the 49ers to "at least make a phone call" to the Bengals about Palmer.
Arizona Republic staffer Kent Somers predicted last week that the Cardinals might be most interested in current Ravens backup Marc Bulger as their 2011 starter. Their outlook might change if Palmer was to become available.
But like Ochocinco, Lombardi advised viewers that Brown is a "man of his word," and won't trade Palmer if he doesn't want to. And for now, that's where it stands. ...
But the future of other high-profile Bengals seems much more wide open.
While Lewis has publicly made it sound like he’d be open to having Ochocinco back on the team, Ochocinco doesn’t seem to believe it -- and neither does Bengals.com staff writer Geoff Hobson.
Recent comments to the media by both the Ocho and Lewis lend credence to that point of view.
In fact, asked about his feelings when it was announced Lewis would return as head coach earlier this month, Ochocinco wasn't biting.
“I have nothing to say about that. I’m not the owner of the team. My hands are out of that situation,” Ochocinco said. “The only thing I can remember, as of right now, about coach Lewis, is coach Lewis throwing me under the bus. When it was time to play the Chargers, knowing that I was hurt. That’s the only thing I can remember at this point.”
The Ocho said he was “really hurt” by some of Lewis’ comments and didn’t know if they could co-exist.
Since then, Ochocinco began using his Twitter account to suggest he'd be a great fit for the Patriots. New England head coach Bill Belichick was extremely complimentary of the veteran wideout after coaching him in the Pro Bowl.
Lewis first addressed Ochocinco's tweets about the Patriots by suggesting, "Nobody was talking about him. He didn't stand that. ... You want them to talk about you, win football games."
Asked on Monday by Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald how Ochocinco would fit with the Patriots, Lewis replied: "Belichick is smarter than that."
In addition to lobbying the Patriots, Ochocinco and Owens made it clear that they would love to play for Rex Ryan and the Jets while taping Tuesday's T.Ocho Show.
“They will make it to this point every year,” Ochocinco said regarding the team’s second straight berth in the AFC title game. “I’d do anything to play for someone like Rex Ryan or anyone who has that type of mentality.”
Said Owens: “I’m jumping on that bandwagon, too, because I was thinking the exact same thing, Chad.”
Owens will be a free agent, whenever free agency begins. Ochocinco remains under contract with the Bengals for one more year, but that looks increasingly unlikely to be an issue.
What we know for sure at this point is Lewis has made it clear he plans to make changes.
"I will fix us. We will get back to the top of this division," Lewis said last week. "What upsets me is I can't tell who we are. My disappointment is I can't tell you what we are. The key to offense is to be offensive and stay offensive. What we are is a big statement. It has to be all encompassing."
While Bob Bratkowski will remain as the coordinator, Lewis indicated that he wants to streamline an offense with a scheme that does less better.
Despite the additions of Owens, Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham, the offense finished 20th. It wasn’t until the injuries to Owens and Ochocinco and the increased playing time for Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson over the last three games that the passing game looked to click consistently.
But as Enquirer staffer Joe Reedy pointed out this morning, rebounding though without a vote of confidence from your franchise quarterback is an almost insurmountable position. Even without the latest drama surrounding Palmer, they could go into the next season without their leading rusher (Cedric Benson) and top two receivers (Owens and Ochocinco) from a year ago.
Add to it the fact that Caldwell, Simpson, Bobbie Williams and Anthony Collins are entering the last year of their contracts and two starters on the offensive line are restricted free agents (Nate Livings, Kyle Cook) and the task of rebuilding the offense or figuring out the future is a momentous one.
I think that's probably the one thing all involved can agree upon.
So stay tuned. Given all the above, it's safe to say we haven't heard the end of the Bengals this offseason.