Carson Palmer, QB Pride of Santa Margarita High, Reported Traded to Oakland Raiders
The No. 1 pick of Cincinnati and the NFL in 2003 asked to be traded in January, something Bengals president Mike Brown flatly rejected, saying Palmer must honor a contract extension through 2014 he had signed years ago. When the franchise player did not show up for training camp in July, the Bengals placed him on the reserve list. Starter Andy Dalton is now in contention for NFL rookie of the year honors.
Neither the Bengals or Raiders have confirmed the trade rumor. Bengals players reacted with ho-hum comments, noting Palmer has not been with them on the way to a 4-2 record under Dalton and opening day starter (and former Raider) Bruce Gradkowski. "Andy has been our quarterback and Bruce has been here, too," said another former Raider, linebacker Thomas Howard. "It's more news around the NFL."
Meanwhile, there is silence in Oakland. It should be noted Raiders head coach Hue Jackson was a wide receivers coach in Cincinnati the last time Palmer took the Bengals to the playoffs.
Bill Palmer, the Fresno-born quarterback's father, recognized his son's potential early, enrolling him before high school in private classes taught by Orange County QB guru Bob Johnson. The elder Palmer had planned on moving his family closer to his job on the East Coast, but decided to commute himself by plane while his son enrolled at Santa Margarita in Rancho Santa Margarita. The stiff competition in SoCal would make his son a better quarterback, he figured.
After putting up impressive numbers with the Eagles, Palmer chose to take his arm to USC, where he had mediocre years until his breakout senior season, when he led the Trojans to victory over the University of Iowa in the Orange Bowl. He left USC holding several records, many of which were later wiped out by fellow Orange County phenom (via Mater Dei) Matt Leinart.
The 6-foot-5, 235 lbs. Palmer spent his rookie season with the Bengals on the bench, which was unusual for an overall No. 1 pick. He started 13 games in his second season, when the Bengals finished 8-8. With Palmer at the helm in 2005, the Bengals had their first winning season since 1990, finishing with an 11-5 record and winning their division.
Palmer then signed the contract extension. But the beginning of the end may have happened on Jan. 8, 2006, when a hit by Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Kimo von Qelhoffen in a first round playoff game left Palmer with a knee injury surgeons at the time characterized as possibly career ending. During the off season, the league cited that hit when instituting a new rule preventing low hits on quarterbacks. Ironically, Palmer's presumed new teammate Richard Seymour recently got flagged for that.
The pride of Santa Margarita High returned from his injury in 2007, but he and the Bengals have never quite been the same with Palmer in the huddle. He took a lot of hits over the next three seasons, something some blamed on an ineffective offensive line and others blamed on Palmer's slow legs and lack of heart, raps that have followed him since his days in Orange County.
Something that might strike fear in the rest of the league: the Raiders have a long history of winning with key players given second chances with the franchise.