Draft Analysis: Impact of the Carson Palmer Trade

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We all came into this season thinking that Mike Brown was the most stubborn owner in the league. Brown had refused to trade a disgruntled Carson Palmer, and it seemed that the Bengals would be the ones who would pay the price. Cincinnati was forced to draft TCU’s Andy Dalton, and it seemed all but certain that the Bengals would be drafting in the top 10 again next year. I’ll be the first to admit that I did not believe in Andy Dalton and thought that the second round was far too high for him to be drafted. I also believed that Mike Brown was setting his team up for at least five years of doom and gloom. If Dalton was as bad as I had expected, the Bengals would be walking into 2012 with a high draft pick, demanding a sizeable contract. Also in 2012, teams are going to have to start being conscious of the new hard salary cap that comes into effect in 2013.

All of these assumptions set up a perfect storm in my mind that would allow Carson Palmer to force a trade for far less value. If the Bengals were committing more money to a high draft pick, and Palmer showed up to training camp, the Bengals would easily be over the salary cap. Palmer’s contract was worth between $11-13 million, and if he reported to training camp, the Bengals would be forced to either trade or cut him. Instead, Brown held onto Palmer, forced him into virtual retirement and waited for a desperate team to call. How perfect it was that Jason Campbell was injured just before the trade deadline, and the Raiders head coach, Hue Jackson, is Palmers old coach from Cincinnati.

This trade has the potential to set two teams up for success for many years, but it could also set one franchise back several years. The move by Oakland means the Raiders will have almost no picks in the 2012 draft, and will be without a prime resource in the 2013 draft. If the Carson Palmer experiment does not work out, Hue Jackson will likely be on his way out, and the Raiders will need to begin rebuilding, again.

For the Bengals, this is by far the best-case scenario. Mike Brown was crazy enough to call Palmer’s bluff and force him into early retirement. The injury to Campbell could not have come at a better time, but I’m still unsure how Brown was able to extract two premium picks for Palmer. It does not matter though, because now the Bengals have two first round picks going into the 2012 draft. I expect one of these picks to be used on a running back (If Trent Richardson is still on the board). The other should be used on the Bengals secondary or interior offensive line. Either way this trade coupled with the development of AJ Green and Andy Dalton provides a very bright outlook for the Bengals. I’m shocked to say that with just two drafts, the Bengals may have completely changed the direction of this franchise.