Carson Palmer has gone to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for what might as well be a bag of balls rather than draft picks (cue killjoy saying "but Tom Brady went in the sixth round"), yet most neutral observers admit that the Cardinals probably did not need to give up anything seeing as the Oakland Raiders would have been forced to cut him anyways.
Unfortunately, Palmer probably will not be worth what the Cardinals gave up for him in his time in the desert, either. An immobile quarterback behind an almost non-existent offensive line, Palmer only has a shot of breaking the NFL record for sacks taken in a single season. Now, think back five years, when that same Carson Palmer was the Pro Bowl MVP and had finished third in Comeback Player of the Year following the dreadful injury that had curtailed the Bengals' 2005 playoff run.
It seemed that the multiple ligament tears were not playing on his mind and the talented cannon-arm was back and firing. That was before the rest of the NFL got the film. That 2007 season where the Bengals seemed primed to make a playoff run fell apart before they even got going. This is because opposing defenses could see that the pocket passer had not become the static passer and was easily rushed into mistakes in a way he was not before the injury.
By Week 8, Palmer led the league in interceptions and the Bengals were 2-5. Palmer then missed most of the 2008 season with torn ligaments and tendons in his elbow. This is where Palmer made a huge error of judgement. At this point, despite his issues under pressure, he was still able to cannon the ball down the field. By electing not to have Tommy John surgery, he lost the pop he could put on the ball and, as a result, lost what made him a top NFL quarterback in the first place.
After that came the bust up with Paul Brown, the fleecing of Oakland, and now we find him fighting for a job in what is a poor situation for him in Arizona. Looking back at that 2005 season, for anyone not a fan of a rival AFC North team, the Cincinnati Bengals were more than just a fairytail story, with Carson Palmer's cannon-arm connecting with Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh: they were a joy to watch. Palmer was all set to become one of the best quarterbacks of the last decade before he got hurt in 2005.
Now Steelers fans, I am not saying that it is Kimo von Oelhoffen's fault that Palmer's career was ruined, because nobody should be blamed for making a legal play (that would still be legal even after the rule was changed that offseason), but you can't help seeing the correlation after that moment. Housmandzadeh and Johnson's post Bengals careers show how perfect the three were together.
While that Bengals team as a whole might never have been good enough to win a Super Bowl, I could see Bengals fans today putting him in the same bracket for them as Dan Marino to Dolphins fans. Instead, he is a floundering figure of fun scraping the barrel for one last paycheck. I don't know about you, but that just makes me sad.
By: Steve Moore