Circle March 4th and April 28th on your calendars. These dates will play a key role in how the Carson Palmer saga unfolds in the coming months. March 4th is the start of the new NFL league year, and traditionally when free agency begins. April 28th is the first night of the 2011 NFL draft. The NFL owners are expected to lock out players if there is not a new CBA, or Collective Bargaining Agreement, between owners and the NFL Players Association before March 4th. If that occurs, then there will be no options for the team to quickly resolve the Carson Palmer saga, as they will be unable to trade him or sign a veteran replacement until after the lockout has ended.
The NFL draft is still going to be held in April, and if no CBA agreement exists before April 28th then there can be no veteran player trades during the draft. Once the CBA issues are resolved and veteran players can be traded, there may be an abbreviated preseason to learn Jay Gruden’s new offense. All of this works against the Bengals if they are trying to find a replacement quarterback and get him ready for the season. Palmer is our best option to win in 2011, and with a much softer schedule this coming season, Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis both want to keep him in house. No better way to quell the angry mob at the gates of Paul Brown Stadium than with a playoff berth.