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Bengals had no choice but to look for Palmer's successor

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Posted April 29, 2011 @ 7:13 p.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

With the selection of TCU QB Andy Dalton, the Bengals have all but begun to close the book on Carson Palmer's time in Cincinnati. Oh, you can't completely rule out Palmer's return. The Bengals would undoubtedly welcome Palmer back, and he would likely be their starter next season, but by taking Dalton with the No. 35 overall pick, they are signaling they take seriously Palmer's threat never to play for the club again.

Now, the question becomes whether the Bengals will entertain trading Palmer, who reportedly wants to play for a West Coast team.

There was a time when Palmer wanted to play for the Bengals. Late in 2005, he signed a lucrative contract extension through the 2014 season with Cincinnati, one that could have been worth $118.75 million over nine seasons, according to The Associated Press.

"Hopefully this is the last place I'll end up playing," he said upon signing the deal.

Hey, things change. And in the case of Palmer and the Bengals, they could very well be changed for good. The Bengals would not have taken a quarterback so high if Palmer wanted to stick around. Were he to return now, it would be awkward.

Let's see how the Bengals proceed from here. Should they move Palmer, they will need to add a veteran passer capable of starting for an extended stretch if Dalton isn't ready. And I expect Cincinnati to give the rookie every chance to prove he's ready right off the bat. I can't see this being shades of 2003 again, where Jon Kitna took every snap and Palmer sat and learned. The Bengals may not have that luxury.

In PFW's 2011 Draft Preview, personnel analyst Nolan Nawrocki gave the 6-2, 215-pound Dalton high marks for his intangibles, a quick release and a skill for throwing a catchable ball. However, Nawrocki, while noting that Dalton was a good fit in a West Coast scheme — which the Bengals are installing — wrote that "accuracy concerns always might restrict him to being anything more than a backup." Dalton, Nawrocki said, compares to Jets QB Kellen Clemens.

A lack of precision will short-circuit a passing game, so Dalton's ability to consistently place the ball where it needs to be will be closely watched.

You don't have to worry too much about Carson Palmer's accuracy, although others are more precise. But the time to discuss Palmer as a Bengal could be drawing to his close. It is his choice, and in this draft, held in the midst of an offseason like none other, one with no free agency yet, the Bengals had no choice but to draft his potential successor.




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