The Carson Palmer trade was right out of The Godfather: The Raiders made an offer that the Bengals couldn’t refuse.
“We got two first round picks right? That’s what you’re hearing?” asked linebacker Thomas Howard when the trade rumors first reached the locker room. “Not bad. That’s not bad at all.”
As it turns out, the Bengals received a first-round choice in next year’s draft and a second-round choice in 2013. According to NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi, the 2013 pick will become a first-round choice if the Raiders advance to the AFC Championship game in either of the next two years (not one Oakland playoff win as previously reported – a win in the Wild Card round would not alter the pick).
But Bengals founder Paul Brown had an old adage that you don’t deal a player until you have his replacement. Even after the Raiders’ jaw-dropping offer, the Palmer trade might not have happened if Andy Dalton hadn’t performed so well in his first six NFL starts.
“I think it has helped Mike (Brown) become comfortable with the whole situation moving forward,” said head coach Marvin Lewis.
“Andy has done a good job with this team and I think ‘upstairs’ felt that it was the right time to let him go and move on,” said linebacker Rey Maualuga.
“Andy is doing a pretty damn good job and he’s growing each and every week,” said Howard. “He’s our guy.”
“They’ve made it easy for me to step into the huddle,” said Dalton. “They don’t treat me like a rookie in there. I’m just trying to do whatever I can to lead this team and get these guys going.”
While Dalton has only played in 5 ½ games – admittedly a tiny sample – it’s interesting to compare his stats to Carson Palmer’s at various stages of his career:
Completion % TD INT Yards QB rating
First 6 NFL games 62.4 7 5 1311 84.4
Projected season 62.4 19 13 3496 84.4
First 6 NFL games 54.9 5 9 1211 62.1
Last season 61.8 26 20 3970 82.4
2009 (AFC North title) 60.5 21 13 3094 83.6
Since 2006 (last Pro Bowl) 62.2 76 57 11,926 83.1
Career 62.9 154 100 22,694 86.9
Dalton was the fifth quarterback picked in this year’s draft after Cam Newton (1st overall), Jake Locker (#8), Blaine Gabbert (#10), and Christian Ponder (#12), but so far, the Bengals rookie has led his team to the best start at 4-2.
“I kind of came in wanting to show what I could do,” said Dalton. “I felt like I was comparable to all of those guys that went in the first round. There is some competition there, but it’s nothing that I’ve focused on really.
“I feel like I’m starting to get better each week and that’s all I can do. I’m facing teams that I’ve never played before – obviously – and I’m just trying to do whatever I can to do the right thing and put this team in a position where we can win the game in the fourth quarter.”
Dalton is used to winning. He was 14-1 as a senior at Katy (TX) high school, 42-7 at TCU, and 4-2 so far with the Bengals. So when asked after the Palmer trade about his personal goals, Andy’s answer was not a surprise.
“The most important thing is to win,” said Dalton. “That’s all that matters. I’m just trying to play to the best of my ability. I’ve been fortunate to be on some really good teams and play with a lot of good players. I just try to bring my attitude and push guys to get going.”
His play as a rookie, helped “push” the Bengals to make one of the biggest trades in franchise history.
“Mike Brown was smart,” said my radio partner Dave Lapham. “He held on to a valuable commodity until he knew that Andy Dalton was the guy. Then a starting quarterback (Jason Campbell) went down with a broken collarbone and Mike Brown was sitting there with a valuable piece of property. (Raiders coach) Hue Jackson recruited Carson at USC and has known him since his high school days and they have a great relationship. Hue has a good relationship with the Bengals organization as well with Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis. All the ducks lined up. He needed a quarterback and he got one. If you’re Mike Brown, there’s no way you don’t make that deal. It’s a win for the Bengals and if the Raiders look at it as a win, that’s the definition of a good deal.”
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I hope you’ll join Dave Lapham and me for “Bengals Gameplan” on Wednesday night from 6 to 8 on ESPN 1530-AM. Our guests are expected to include Oakland Raiders play-by-play announcer Greg Papa, Bengals receivers coach James Urban, and NFL experts Jay Glazer and Alex Marvez.
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