The offseason-long soap opera between the Cincinnati Bengals and quarterback Carson Palmer will rear its ugly head again within the upcoming week.
Palmer's newest most likely landing places are two teams whose quarterback positions appeared to be among the most stable in the league. Both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Indianapolis Colts need a competent veteran starter soon, and could end up bidding against each other for Palmer's services.
Chris Mortenson of ESPN reported in January Palmer would request a trade and retire if his request wasn't granted. Bengals owner Mike Brown repeatedly denied Palmer was available, and the quarterback did not report for training camp. Palmer is currently on the team's reserve/did not report list.
It is now time for Brown to change his stance towards Palmer and agree to trade the disgruntled quarterback as soon as he reports to the team. Unless Brown wants to prove the Bengals deserve to be called the worst franchise in professional sports, it only makes sense to get value for Palmer while two teams are desperate for quarterback help.
If Palmer had shown up before the season started and forced the Bengals to trade him then, he likely would've ended up on a bottom-feeding team with no talent around him. By waiting and not forcing the Bengals' hand, Palmer is in a position where he can become a starter on a team that has enough talent to contend for the playoffs.
For the first time since before the 1998 draft, the Colts' quarterback position is a tremendous weakness. Indianapolis' offense is based on quarterback Peyton Manning's sense of timing that allows him to hit receivers perfectly in stride. The Colts' defensive game plan is predicated on sending defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis loose after quarterbacks who are forced to pass because their team is playing from behind.
With Manning out for probably the entire season, Kerry Collins' shaky accuracy causes the entire offense to stall, meaning opposing teams don't get behind and the Colts' defense can't play to its strengths. No quarterback could fully replace Manning in the Colts' system, but a rhythm-and timing-based passer such as Palmer would be a much better fit than Collins.
There's simply too much talent on the Colts' roster for them to justify tanking the season in order to draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. They need to make a move for a competent signal-caller in order to salvage the season before they fall into a hole too deep to escape.
The Colts aren't the only team that should be interested in Palmer. The Eagles' self-proclaimed "Dream Team" has gotten off to a nightmare of a 1-2 start, with superstar quarterback Michael Vick leaving both games with injuries.
Eagles coach Andy Reid said Monday the injury that caused Vick to leave the team's Week 3 loss to the Giants was a hand contusion and not a broken bone as initially believed. Vick and the Eagles have gotten lucky this time, but at the rate Vick's season is going, it is only a matter of time before he has to miss a significant amount of games.
Between a swollen hand and a concussion that was still affecting him even though he was cleared to play, Vick shouldn't be playing football right now. However, the Eagles don't really have any viable backup quarterbacks -- Mike Kafka is still too inexperienced to run the Eagles' offense, and Vince Young is dealing with an injury issue of his own.
By trading for Palmer, the Eagles can protect their investment in Vick by allowing him to rest for as long as he needs to do so. Doing so will allow the Eagles to have their biggest weapon available down the stretch when his help will be even more necessary.
Whether the Eagles or Colts trade for Palmer, one of the two teams needs to pull the trigger. If neither team makes the move, it's only a matter of time before somebody does. The demand for a quarterback has never been higher, so Palmer just has to keep waiting for the supply of quarterbacks to continue decreasing.
Eventually, the dwindling quantity of quarterbacks will get Palmer exactly what he wants: a one-way ticket out of Cincinnati.