Around the AFC North: Thoughts on Carson Palmer


Doesn’t it seem like Cincinnati Bengal’s quarterback Carson Palmer has been around forever? Well, he hasn’t.

He’s played in 97 games, just barely over six full seasons.

Before the lockout, Palmer made headlines by threatening to retire and sacrifice the remaining money on his contract if he wasn’t traded this off-season. And as we’ve all heard by now, Bengals owner Mike Brown made some headlines of his own with a public statement regarding how the team will approach Carson’s trade demands:

"“Carson signed a contract. He made a commitment. He gave his word. We relied on his word. We relied on his commitment. We expected him to perform here. He’s going to walk away from his commitment. We aren’t going to reward him for doing it.”"

Translation: Get bent.

The world is siding against Brown on this one, but I agree with him. If you make an exception for Carson, you’ll be making them with other players eventually. This was a great time to draw a line in the sand for a team looking to turn the page with a rookie QB.

I do however also feel Carson’s pain, kinda.

As NFL news boomed Monday, that quote above was read and discussed over your typical slow-motion, ESPN highlight reel of Palmer’s days with the Bengals. As I watched I couldn’t help but notice at least 75% of that B-roll, breaking news footage was him running for his life against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

That got me thinking: Maybe this isn’t the time to be developing a quarterback in this division.

Carson Palmer was a great NFL player for a very short time until injuries derailed his career. The first was a gruesome knee injury at the hands of the Steelers in the playoffs. I am sure the countless other hits they delivered over the years have taken their toll too.

Wait, let’s count…

In Palmer’s 6+ NFL years, he’s been sacked 25 times in 12 career games against Pittsburgh. He’s been hit, hurried, and knocked down a lot more than that too.

For good measure, he’s also played 13 games against the Baltimore Ravens, who’ve handed him 22 more sacks.

All told, that’s 45 of the 160 total sacks he’s endured in his career.

And Carson Palmer was truly one of the toughest players around in his day. One of the more memorable articles I’ve read is from a prehistoric issue of ESPN The Magazine about how Palmer just stepped into the Bengals organziation and owned everyone.

From scaring the crap out of Chad Johnson (Ochocinco), to using the phrase “downfield nipple” in a sentence, Palmer had “it.” In just his second season as a starter, he was selected to the Pro Bowl and took Cinci to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.

Now he’s got a wrecked arm and bad knees after just six full seasons, and four games of a seventh. Washed up at 31 years old––That’s the life of the AFC North quarterback.

Looking at his 2005 playoff numbers is even more depressing: One pass, for 66 yards.

Carson’s first ever playoff pass was the longest completion in Bengals playoff history, and Steelers DE Kimo von Oelhoffen destroyed his knee as soon as it left his hand.

Eventually the margin of terror Pittsburgh holds over the rest of the division will diminish, but for now you’ve still got to wonder how long Colt McCoy can handle the best beating the NFL has to offer: Two games every year against the Steelers.

  • Carson Palmer measures 6’ 5” and 230 LBS and as the #1 overall pick in the draft had never missed time to injury as a college player.
  • Colt McCoy is 6’2” and 209 LBS and was injured in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game, and in his rookie season with the Browns.

Even if Colt plays well next year and the Browns decide to build around him, will his body will hold up after three, or four, or five years in this division?

One more fun fact on the Bengals:

If you ever find yourself in argument with an obnoxious Bengals fan (is there any other kind?), don’t get carried away…

Over the past 10 years Cincinnati’s combined record is a paltry 68-91, yet that’s shockingly ten games better than the Browns’ 10-year mark of 59-101.