Carson Palmer trade is steal for Bengals

No one expected the Bengals to trade quarterback Carson Palmer. Even Bengals owner Mike Brown didn't anticipate a move five days ago.

But as the saying goes, the Raiders made the Bengals a deal that they couldn't refuse. Actually, it was a deal no owner or general manager could refuse.

Cincinnati gets a first-round draft pick in 2012 and a second-rounder in 2013 that can become a first-rounder for a quarterback who was never going to play for the team again. The Bengals got two high draft picks when they already have Palmer's replacement in Andy Dalton.

This is a steal for the Bengals. This is highway robbery. Whatever exaggeratory cliché you have, it fits the situation.

Say what you want about how Brown has run the team over the years, but his hard-line stance with Palmer paid off. Big time. Brown couldn't get a better deal in his fantasy football league.

This would have been a steal for the Bengals if they were able to get just the 2012 first-round pick from Oakland. The conditional second-rounder in 2013 is just icing on the Bengals' celebration cake.

Remember, this is a deal for a 31-year-old Carson Palmer, not Andrew Luck.

Maybe you could rationalize the draft picks if the Raiders were getting the Palmer from 2005, the one who threw for 3,836 yards and 32 touchdowns. But Oakland is getting the 2011 Palmer, one who has gone through knee and elbow injuries.

From 2008 to 2010, Palmer's QBR was 50, which ranked 26th in the NFL (according to ESPN Stats & Information). He threw 50 touchdowns and 37 interceptions during that time.

In 2010, Palmer tied a career high with 20 interceptions. His 23 turnovers that season were fourth most in the NFL. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Palmer hasn't been among the NFL's statistically elite quarterbacks since 2007, the season before he missed 12 games with a serious elbow injury.

Throw out the cost of what it took to get Palmer and the Raiders are winners in their own way, too. Palmer is an upgrade over backup Kyle Boller and even Jason Campbell (who injured his collarbone this past Sunday) when healthy. Palmer is probably a better quarterback as of today than Dalton because of his arm strength and experience.

But Palmer was never going to put on a Bengals jersey again. Even if he did, no one in the locker room would welcome him back after he chose to have an extended vacation instead of playing for Cincinnati. After the disastrous four-win season from a year ago, it was time for a fresh start and that meant no Chad Ochocinco and no Palmer.

Brown was probably resigned to trading Palmer next offseason. The Bengals probably would've been ecstatic for a third-round pick for Palmer. A second-round pick? The Who Dey Nation would've called that a pipe dream.

In the NFL, teams are willing to give up second-round picks for emerging 20-something quarterbacks like Matt Cassel in 2009 or Kevin Kolb in 2011. They'll even trade a couple of first-rounders for a 26-year-old quarterback coming off a 4,000-yard Pro Bowl season (Jay Cutler).

Teams just don't give up that much for over-30 passers. In fact, before the Cutler deal, you have to go back to 2002 to find another non-rookie quarterback traded for a first-round pick, and that was Drew Bledsoe.

This just doesn't happen. And this type of good fortune rarely happens for the Bengals, who've had two winning seasons in the past 20 years.

The only way this deal comes back to haunt the Bengals is if Palmer leads the Raiders to the postseason and bumps Cincinnati out of a playoff spot in the process. That would be an embarrassing turn of events.

But the Bengals can't think of such scenarios when a deal like this sits in front of them. It would've sent the wrong message to an already-skeptical fan base if Brown traded Palmer to the Raiders for a 2013 third-round pick. That would just be cutting your losses and helping a potential playoff competitor in the process.

The Bengals head into their bye week with a 4-2 record, a highly ranked defense, an exciting rookie wide receiver and a developing young quarterback. There's a newness and excitement with this team again.

The trading of Palmer Tuesday marks a welcomed surprise in an already-surprising season.