With the news over the weekend that Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer wants to be traded or he may retire, and then the assertion by Bengals owner Mike Brown that the team will not be trading him, the potential trade market for Palmer is now worth analyzing.
Without mentioning any specific teams that may be interested at this point, let's take a look at the potential hurdles to any deal involving Palmer. First would be the fact he is due $50 million over the next four seasons. Any acquiring team would be taking on a significant financial investment, despite that money not being guaranteed to him.
Another noteworthy factor is the fact Palmer threw 20 interceptions in 2010 and has not been the same player since suffering a knee injury in the playoffs following his breakout 2005 season (32 touchdowns). He also played just four games in 2008 due to an elbow injury that he did not have surgery to repair despite missing 12 games. The elbow issue may be the culprit for Palmer's drop-off in arm strength over the last couple seasons.
That said, Palmer has started all 16 games in five of the last six seasons and has completed over 60 percent of his passes in each of those five campaigns. He did throw for 3,970 yards and 26 touchdowns this past season as the Bengals went back to a pass-happy offense in an apparent effort to appease their diva wide receivers and has two seasons with over 4,000 passing yards in his career.
There are plenty of teams that have a need at quarterback and may be interested in making a trade for the 31-year-old Palmer. I'll list some of the more notable teams, with a brief description of their quarterback situation and other factors that may play into their interest (or lack thereof).
Palmer's collegiate head coach at USC, Pete Carroll, may be interested in bringing in the former Heisman Trophy winner. But the team would almost certainly have to allow Matt Hasselbeck to leave via free agency for there to be a fit.
2010 rookies Max Hall and John Skelton should still be around, and could be options down the road. Palmer could be a solid one or two-year stopgap and form a potent tandem with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
After all the Brett Favre drama over the last two years and a team that could become a contender again in 2011, the Vikings may have a solid situation for Palmer. There is skill position talent in Minnesota (Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin).
It is uncertain if the Panthers will look to draft a quarterback in April, or if they are willing to continue to groom Jimmy Clausen as their quarterback of the future. New head coach Ron Rivera may be interested in bringing in a veteran signal-caller.
San Francisco 49ers
Another NFC West team, and another uncertain quarterback situation. New head coach Jim Harbaugh has said he wants to install the West Coast offense, which may suit Palmer well if his arm strength does not come back.
The Redskins are very unlikely to bring back Donovan McNabb after his dismal performance in 2010, so head coach Mike Shanahan is likely to look to bring in another veteran this offseason. Owner Dan Snyder has never shied away from spending money, so Palmer's contract situation may not be a stumbling block to a potential deal.
There's also the possibility Palmer will make good on his threat and retire if the Bengals do not trade him. I find that to be very unlikely, considering the money he would be walking away from. Not that he needs the money per se, but it would be idiotic to just walk away from the potential to make $50 million over the next four years. So he may be stuck in Cincinnati, at least for one more year. The league's labor situation, as long as it remains unresolved, will also no doubt be a factor in whether Palmer is dealt.