There are 3 prevailing options for what to do about Carson Palmer: 1) play hardball and force him to retire, 2) make him happy enough to play another year in Cincinnati, or 3) trade him as soon as it is possible to do so. Which option suits you best?
If you prefer to force him into retirement, I feel bad for you. You are living with an unhealthy amount of spite. This is a man’s livelihood you want to end. Unless Carson came to your house and kicked your pet, this level of anger is unhealthy. A few sessions with a counselor would be time well spent.
(If you need another reason to reconsider your position, keep in mind that you are actually endorsing Mike Brown’s current course of action. Uttering the words “You go, Mike Brown!” ought to be enough to scare you straight.)
Now that we have two reasonable options left, let’s plot a course forward.
If you want to see Carson come back for one more year to take a farewell tour as well as tutor Andy Dalton, I understand where you are coming from. You want to win in 2011, and you figure Carson wins more than anyone else. But I absolutely disagree with you. Here is an inductive explanation of why.
First, Tank Johnson gave a radio interview explaining what happened to take the 2010 Bengals from SuperBowl hopefuls to huge underachievers. His main answer was team chemistry. He didn’t blame Chad and T.O. for taking the T.Ocho gig, but he did say their larger-than-life personae effected others in the locker room. Chad stayed low in 2009 after a bad 2008. Bringing Chad back to full strength, then adding T.O. on top of it, was a concoction that some were not ready to handle.
Now, go back to Cedric Benson’s comment that bringing Carson back in now, after everything that has happened since the end of the season, would “be detrimental to the team.” Carson isn’t a media diva, but the problem he has caused by saying he will never play in Cincinnati again is even bigger. Just taking him back after that isn’t so simple. Guys like Cedric know it.
Picture this. A guy you work with gets hacked about something in the company and makes a Jerry McGuire sized scene as he steals a company goldfish and spouts off about how he will never work for your company again. But then a few months later he shows up back in uniform, working with you again. You respect that guy? Me neither.
How does Carson lead the Bengals after what he’s done? Short answer, he can’t. He can talk to the team and explain his side, maybe even apologize. He could probably get square with some of the team, but not everybody. Respect is an expensive commodity, and it is not repaired quickly or easily.
Bottom line, the Bengals need to trade Carson for whatever they can get for him. If the T.Ocho show sent the Bengals careening in 2010, Mr. “I Quit” could easily have the same effect. It is better to remove the distractions, even if it extends the learning curve, and let the team gel. Giving Carson a curtain call is more bad chemistry.