Chances are good Carson Palmer will end up with more passing yards in a season for the Raiders than he ever had in Cincinnati.
He has proven that his arm is as good as ever and still flashes the skills that made him one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks with the Bengals in 2005 and 2006, starting a year after he came out of USC as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and winner of the Heisman Trophy.
None of that will matter much to the home fans when Palmer returns to Paul Brown Stadium for the first time since he was traded to the Raiders last October. For reasons Palmer never made public, he thought it was time to leave the franchise that drafted him last year and simply took his football and went home until it happened.
Owner Mike Brown promised not to trade Palmer because he had a signed contract and he wanted him to honor his commitment. Palmer, through his agent David Dunn, said he'd retire from football before he ever played for the Bengals again.
He sold his house and returned to Southern California. The Bengals drafted Andy Dalton in the second round and made him their starting quarterback. Palmer contemplated what life without football would be like at age 31.
Fate intervened in the form of a broken collarbone by Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell on Oct. 16. The Raiders, in the playoff hunt and mourning owner Al Davis, who had died eight days earlier, were coached by Hue Jackson -- on staff at USC when Palmer was there, as well as a former Bengals assistant coach.
Jackson had a relationship with Mike Brown, and eventually helped get him to trade Palmer to the Raiders at a huge cost. Palmer became a Raider for a pair of first-round draft picks.
With that as a backdrop, how will Palmer be received by the Bengals crowd?
"I have a pretty good feeling how it's going to go," Palmer said with a wry smile. "We'll see Sunday at 1."
Palmer, having never talked about the reasons he wanted out of Cincinnati following a 5-11 season, wasn't about to start the week of the Bengals game, although he did at least offer a hint.
When asked if he would have liked the chance to have closure with his teammates, Palmer said, "I have seen guys, run into guys back in San Diego, talked and texted. I think anybody that's played for that ownership knows what I was doing and why I was doing it."
For the most part, Palmer was keeping details of the split to himself.
"I'm not going to dive into that," Palmer said. "To me, this is two seasons later. That was in the past. I'm here now ... no regrets."
As for the atmosphere in Cincinnati, Palmer touched on it in a peripheral manner. He said he had friends and neighbors still there and harbored no ill feelings.
"You spend a certain amount of time somewhere and it's always a little bit different going back," Palmer said. "It's a big game (for me), but it's obviously a much bigger game for our team. We need to get a win."
The Bengals made the playoffs last season without Palmer and remain in the playoff hunt at 5-5, while the Raiders are 3-7 and have lost three straight.
"We're playing against a good team, a good team in a good division that has beaten good teams," Palmer said. "I think probably they would say they should have a better record than they do because they are better than their record shows. We feel we're better than our record shows."
Talking to Cincinnati reporters, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis wanted no part of delving into Palmer's departure and return. He noted 28 of the 53 players have turned over since Palmer played there.
"That tells you how quickly things change in the NFL," Lewis said. "Now he's not here, and our job is to beat the Oakland Raiders and Carson Palmer."
In a conference call with Bay Area reporters, Lewis said he wasn't sure how the home fans would react to Palmer in silver and black.
"Carson did a lot for this organization and city and he won two division championships when he was here and that's huge, so I think it'll be somewhat mixed," Lewis said. "People always get their feelings hurt, and unfortunately this is professional sports and sometimes things happen like that."