The NFL owners may be saying that their business model is not sustainable (though it would help their cases if they'd open their books), but there's apparently nothing wrong with the financial model of one Carson Palmer(notes), Cincinnati Bengals quarterback. Or, at least, that's what Palmer is now ... and what he doesn't want to be anymore. For months, Palmer has been making extreme noises about his desire to get out of Cincinnati once and for all, and he's been at his most strident about it in the last few days.
According to WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, Palmer recently told a friend that he would "never set foot in Paul Brown Stadium again," and that he has "$80 million in the bank. I don't have to play football for money. I'll play it for the love of the game but that would have to be elsewhere. I'm prepared to live my life."
Palmer's agent, David Dunn, released this statement in the wake of those comments: "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."
Since injuries have taken the sharpness off his game over the past few seasons, Palmer has fallen from his former Pro Bowl status. In just about every full season he's played since 2005, Palmer's efficiency has decreased. He had a nice little rebound in 2010, throwing for 3,970 yards, 26 touchdowns and 20 interceptions with Chad Ochocinco(notes), Terrell Owens(notes) and rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham(notes) on the roster. But it's been a challenge for Palmer to scale the dizzying heights of the AFC North with team owner Mike Brown's(notes) frequently questionable management decisions, just as it's been a problem for the Bengals to rely on a quarterback who probably still has a few years left, but can't always be relied on to stay healthy and efficient.
The first overall pick in the 2003 draft, Palmer led the Bengals to the playoffs in 2005 and 2009 -- the only winning seasons the team has enjoyed since 1990. If he does leave, it will most likely be by way of retirement unless Brown hears an offer for Palmer he can't refuse, and Brown has said that he will not entertain the concept of Palmer leaving the team by his hand. That may be a simple ploy, but one never knows with the erratic Brown.
Palmer signed a six-year, $118.75 million contract extension in December of 2005 that takes him through the 2014 season. He may be attractive to several teams in need of quarterbacks, but not likely at the $11.5 million in base salary due him in the 2011 and 2012 seasons. If he were to retire, the Bengals would hold his rights through the length of his current contract, though one never knows what may happen on the other side of a new collective bargaining agreement.
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