Insiders

Bengals Trading Carson Palmer Was Best For Everyone

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Whenever you see a MVP discussion on social media, the main two names you see are Tom Brady and Cam Newton, which makes sense. After all, they’re the starting quarterbacks for the only two undefeated teams in the NFL.

However, there’s another name people need to bring up and that’s none other than Carson Palmer. The 35-year-old quarterback is on pace to have his best season ever, as he has 27 touchdowns with just nine interceptions (a ratio of 3:1) to go along with 3,066 yards and a quarterback rating of 108.6.

Nonetheless, Brady’s numbers are more impressive at this point, but that isn’t stopping head coach Bruce Arians from believing his guy deserves consideration.

“I don’t see why not,” Arians stated. “He’s playing right there with them, if not better.”

Four years ago, no one thought any of this was even possible. At the time, Palmer was technically still the quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals, but he would eventually be traded to the Oakland Raiders after threatening to retire if he wasn’t shipped out.

While Palmer couldn’t elevate Oakland in his brief time there (two seasons), parting ways with Cincy has turned out to not only be a good thing for Palmer, but it has also benefited the Bengals organization.

Cincinnati received Oakland’s 2012 first round pick and their 2013 second round pick, which they used on cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and running back Giovani Bernard.

Kirkpatrick’s career didn’t get off to an ideal start, as he only totaled 12 passes defended during his first three seasons, but this year has been a completely different story. The 26-year-old already has eight passes defended through nine games.

Meanwhile, Bernard is averaging 5.5 yards per carry, which leads the league for running backs with at least 99 carries.

Bengals head coach, Marvin Lewis, spoke on the four-year-old swap.

“We drafted Carson because of his character and his incredible abilities. And he is still showing them at age 35,” Lewis explained. “He was a fantastic player to coach, always challenging everyone to be right. His decision not to continue here put us in what looked like a tough spot, but in the end it has worked out for all involved.”

The play of Andy Dalton made trading Palmer away a lot easier. Cincy drafted Dalton in the 2011 NFL Draft in the second round and although he hasn’t won a playoff game, he’s helped put the Bengals in position to be successful year in and year out.

With Palmer set to face his former team for the first time ever, Bengals owner, Mike Brown, decided to reflect on the past, while discussing the present. 

“It worked out the way it did. I have an odd feeling for Carson Palmer,” Brown said candidly. “I like Carson Palmer personally. I did when he was here. I regret it broke apart the way it did. I don’t want him to beat us any more than he wants us to beat him. I’m sure that will be in the back of his mind. But other than that, I wish him well. I think he is a great passer. He really is. He’s a special passer, very accurate. I look at him play and I see the player that we had when he was here. When he’s on and playing the way he can play, he is a big-time winning quarterback.”

Not everyone associated with the Bengals has great memories of Palmer, however.

Obviously, it’ll be easy for Palmer to just say this is another game, but he knows it’s bigger than that.

This contest has been flexed to the night slate, and it didn’t disappoint.  After throwing two early interceptions, Palmer rebounded and completed 20 of 31 throws, for 317 yards with four touchdowns and a 111.2 quarterback rating in the team’s 34-31 victory.

“I just made two really stupid plays,” Palmer said. “Just kind of got the jitters out and we got rolling. We caught fire in the second half.”

Palmer led the Cards down the field for the game-winning field goal as he took over deep in his own territory with just under a minute remaining.  The former first-overall pick was masterful against his old team which boasts one of the stingiest defenses in the NFL.

Although the Cardinals won the game, both team’s sit with identical 8-2 records.  The Bengals have one of the best rosters in the NFL, partially thanks to the Palmer trade.  Meanwhile, the Cardinals are a legitimate Super Bowl contender for the first time since Kurt Warner retired.

It’s possible that Sunday night was a Super Bowl preview, and if they play the same type of game, America will be captivated.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.