NFL Trade Deadline: Mike Brown Deserves Credit for Dealing Carson Palmer

Tom BrewerCorrespondent IIOctober 18, 2011

Tuesday morning, Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown did what he vowed not to do: trade quarterback Carson Palmer.

Brown shipped the former face of the Bengals to the Oakland Raiders for a first-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft and a conditional first-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft.

The move comes after Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell went down with a broken collarbone against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday—a week after Brown reiterated that he would not move Palmer before Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline.

The trade positions a promising young Bengals team to have an even brighter future. The Bengals could not have asked for much more.

Consider that the Washington Redskins received two sixth-round picks from the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for Donovan McNabb—of similar age and experience to Palmer—or that the Philadelphia Eagles received a second- and a third-round pick for McNabb the season before.

What the Bengals were able to acquire for Carson Palmer was amazing. Even more amazing is that all the credit belongs to Mike Brown.

Ask any Bengals fan what has been wrong with the team for the last two decades and his answer will start with ownership. Brown receives the blame for terrible draft choices like David Klingler and Akili Smith, skimping on front office personnel, and providing a fan experience only slightly more flashy than a school board meeting. Fans and writers alike (myself included) have pointed out his incompetence at every turn.

If fans and media are going to lay all the blame on Mike Brown when he makes a mistake, shouldn’t we give Mike Brown the credit when things go right? In 2011, the Bengals owner has made all the right moves.

He extended the contract of head coach Marvin Lewis. At the time, many fans rolled their eyes and complained about the need for a new voice in the locker room, but after a 4-2 start to the 2011 NFL season, the complaining has ceased.

As it turns out, the problem was not Lewis’ message, but the players who chose to ignore it.

Brown then hired new Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden. We all questioned Brown’s judgment again as Gruden was unproven on the NFL level. Over the course of six games, the new OC has displayed a penchant for developing game plans that suit the Bengals’ strengths and take advantage of the opposition’s weaknesses. The offense is simultaneously exciting and calculating and miscommunication has been rare.

Bengals fans would have preferred a cardboard cut-out of Justin Bieber to call plays instead of former Offensive Coordinator Bob Bratkowski, but that does not change the fact that Mike Brown made a good hire.

In April, Brown drafted wide receiver A.J. Green with the fourth pick in the NFL draft. Green has lived up to the hype, hauling in 29 receptions and four touchdowns in his first six NFL games and providing a legitimate deep threat every time the orange and black have the football.

In the second round of the draft, Brown selected Andy Dalton. While Dalton is not yet a Pro Bowler, he leads the team—something Palmer was unwilling or unable to do—is comfortable in the offense and has led the Bengals to fourth quarter comeback victories.

That’s two franchise-changing picks in one draft, and Mike Brown is responsible for them.

One year of savvy decisions by Mike Brown will not erase twenty years of bumbling. There is no chance the Carson Palmer trade can undo decades of frustration around Cincinnati. Brown did not wake up this morning and discover he was a football genius. However, he closed a fantastic deal for the Bengals and fans should commend him for it.

As much as it hurts.