Bengals won't trade Carson Palmer
Owner Mike Brown said on Monday that the 31-year-old quarterback asked for a trade a little more than a week ago. Brown told Palmer that 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.''
The franchise quarterback evidently decided it's time to leave his mess of a team.
Palmer hasn't talked to the media since making his trade request. A text message seeking comment wasn't returned. Agent David Dunn didn't return a phone message on Monday.
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.
His trade request is another telling moment for a franchise coming off a 4-12 season that was in many ways the most disappointing in its history. Lewis 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.
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 receiver Chad Ochocinco tried to get traded before the 2008 season, Brown dug in. Ochocinco has an option year on his deal for 2011.
On Monday, Ochocinco tweeted: ''no everything is not messed up in Cincy, we will be fine, Carson isn't going anywhere ... relax.''
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.
The 2002 Heisman Trophy winner at Southern California became the game's most impressive up-and-coming passer when he led the Bengals to the playoffs in 2005, breaking a streak of 15 years without a winning record. He tore up his left knee during a playoff loss to Pittsburgh.
Late in the 2005 season, Palmer agreed to rework his contract to give the club more salary cap flexibility. He got six years added to the deal, which lasts through 2014. At the time, he said he wanted to finish his career in Cincinnati.
Since then, the Bengals have made the playoffs only one more time, losing to the Jets in the 2009 season. The offense has been in flux, bouncing from a run-based approach in 2009 to a mix of run-and-pass last season that didn't work. With Terrell Owens and Ochocinco as his top targets, Palmer completed 362 of a team-record 586 attempts for 3,970 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also matched his career high with 20 interceptions.
Owens is a free agent unlikely to return. As the season went along, he openly questioned the coaches' play calling, saying the Bengals should throw more. Running back Cedric Benson, another free agent, said the team should have stayed with its run-first philosophy.
Palmer and agent David Dunn didn't return messages seeking comment.
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 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.''