Based on the starting quarterback's stern trade demands and reported comments via a confidant, it is clear Palmer believes the Bengals are hopeless. He is not buying into the team's 2-1 finish, recent coaching changes or the idea of young players quickly developing. In Palmer's eyes, he doesn't see an end to the losing following a 4-12 season.
This should serve as a huge wake-up call for the Bengals organization.
Palmer knows the Bengals extremely well. He's the franchise quarterback who, over the past eight years, has been privy to all the inner workings of one of the most downtrodden organizations over the past two decades. Since Palmer was drafted as the No. 1 overall pick in 2003, the Bengals have had only two winning seasons and zero playoff victories.
But the surprising part is that it was Palmer, who is (was?) one of the most optimistic and naturally upbeat athletes in the NFL. He's never complained to the media about the Bengals in eight seasons. Now, he suddenly doesn't want anything to do with the franchise.
Longtime readers of the AFC North blog know I've never had much confidence in Cincinnati's non-traditional organizational setup. The Bengals have no general manager, a small scouting staff (ESPN's scouting staff is bigger) and they make too many bad personnel decisions without putting enough money back into their product.
How can you consistently compete in today's NFL with this model?
If this is easy to see from the outside, then Palmer certainly knows this from the inside as the team's starting quarterback. He would rather retire and spend time with his family than continue to suffer through more losing seasons and take the physical pounding on his 31-year-old body.
In my opinion, Palmer's wanting out is a much bigger reflection on the Bengals than it is Palmer. He isn't the first star player to lose hope in the organization, but I think Palmer's situation is the most telling.
As of March, it appears Palmer will never play another down for the Bengals. It remains to be seen if this holds true in September. But regardless of how this saga ends, the Bengals should really take this latest debacle as a sign that a lot of improvements need to be made within the organization to prevent the next star player from being "Bengalized."