That's why quarterback Carson Palmer did them a favor by reportedly demanding a trade. Palmer, the No. 1 pick in the 2003 draft, has never fully recovered since suffering a devastating knee injury five years ago, and he might be coming off of his worst season in Cincinnati.
Because of that, the Bengals should have explored trade options this offseason anyway, but unloading Palmer could have caused their disgruntled fan base to erupt even more. Palmer has only had two winning records in seven seasons as a starter, but at the very least, he represents stability and optimism for an organization that has lacked both characteristics for much of its existence (They had a losing record in 11 of the 12 seasons before Palmer was drafted, and they've had 12 winning records in their 43-year history.)
The Bengals' 4-12 record in 2010 set them up with the fourth selection in April's draft, and they'll have an opportunity to take a quarterback if they'd like to go that route, although each of the quarterbacks at the top of the class have some real question marks.
There should be a market for Palmer's services, but he is owed $50 million in salary through 2014, so that could be a hindrance. Yet, with so many teams that need a quarterback, someone will likely be willing to surrender a second- or third-round pick to land Palmer.
Palmer is still good enough to win if he's got the right cast in place — the Bengals won a tough AFC North division with a 10-6 record in 2009 — but he's no longer the franchise quarterback that he was prior to blowing out his knee in a playoff loss to the Steelers. Because of that, Palmer would be a good fit in places like Minnesota, Seattle, San Francisco or Miami, which all have good foundations and potential to win.
The Bengals' ideal situation this offseason would have been to draft a quarterback and let him develop for a year under Palmer before making the change, but Palmer's public trade demands have sped up that process. Plus, it will help the fans side with the organization in this instance, which will keep the Bengals from dealing with the public backlash.
The Bengals didn’t look like they were set up to win much in 2011. Their willingness to accept that now and move on from Palmer could be the best-case scenario for both sides.
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