Now it's the Bengals who have reason to laugh

Posted Oct. 18, 2011 @ 10:33 p.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

The Bengals, in a blockbuster trade finalized Tuesday, traded QB Carson Palmer to Oakland. The Bengals will receive a 2012 first-round pick and a 2013 second-round selection, according to the club.

Palmer, 31, helped lead the Bengals to a pair of division titles, but after eight seasons, he decided he no longer wanted to play for the club. He has sat out the entire 2011 season. In April, the Bengals drafted TCU rookie Andy Dalton to replace Palmer, and Dalton has performed well, throwing for 1,311 yards with seven TDs and five interceptions.

Bengals owner Mike Brown said the Raiders' offer for Palmer, coupled with Dalton's development, made this a deal worth making.

"Several factors made us believe that trading Carson to Oakland was the best move for the Bengals at this time," Brown said Tuesday. "The principal development has been Andy Dalton, who has shown himself to be one of the best and most exciting young quarterbacks in the NFL. We have a good, young football team, and Andy can be the cornerstone of that team for a long time.

"We also find ourselves rather suddenly in position of being able to receive real value for Carson that can measurably improve our team — which is performing well and is showing real promise for this year and years to come. When this opportunity arose, we felt we could not let it pass, and needed to take a step forward with the football team if we could."

The PFW spin

It's clear that luck smiled on the Bengals, much like the spin of a roulette wheel ending with the ball landing on red "9" with your last $25 chip on the spot. Consider the circumstances: The Raiders, in contention in the AFC West at 4-2, lost starting QB Jason Campbell to a broken collarbone on Sunday — two days before the trading deadline. Raiders head coach Hue Jackson, who now has a major voice in trades following the death of Al Davis, was on the Bengals' coaching staff from 2004-06 and very clearly wanted Palmer as his starting quarterback.

These conditions gave the Bengals leverage no one could have foreseen before Sunday. Credit Brown for making a deal that is remarkably favorable for his team. Not only do the Bengals get two high draft picks for Palmer, but the new CBA limits the compensation available to rookies signing their first contracts. 

But even if this trade hadn't come together, the Bengals' 2011 season has gotten off to a good start. The combination of a solid offense and a very good defense has helped Cincinnati to a 4-2 record.

For a rookie, Dalton has played well. He has been shaky at times; for instance, he wasn't sharp in the loss to San Francisco, and he didn't play well at all in the first half vs. Buffalo in Week Four. Overall, though, the positives have outweighed the negatives. He has also benefited from a solid supporting cast. Rookie WR A.J. Green looks like he'll be a top-flight player for years to come, and second-year TE Jermaine Gresham has also shown promise. RB Cedric Benson has shown he can carry a heavy workload throughout his time in Cincinnati. Also, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has helped Dalton to succeed, too. The offense suits Dalton's skills well, and vice versa.

It is a credit to Lewis, Gruden, defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and the rest of the coaching staff that the Bengals, without the benefit of a normal offseason program, have started this well. The benefits from the Palmer trade could be reaped in future seasons, but the Bengals, as is, are a half-game off the lead in a very tough division.

The Bengals and Brown, the president and primary owner of the club, have been easy targets over the years. But the organization can be proud today. Their one-time franchise quarterback walked away, but they have succeeded without him — and then they dealt him at the most opportune time.