On this first week after the first weekend with no football, here are some Frequently Asked Questions in Bengaldom:
DO YOU THINK CARSON PALMER WILL RETIRE IF HE ISN’T TRADED?
The guess here is that he has privately told the Bengals to take it or leave it, because only “those close to him” have dropped the “R” word publicly. The other guess is that Bengals president Mike Brown, who has always thought highly of Palmer as a person as well as a player, is going to hold fast to the belief that there can be some kind of reconciliation because of the commitment the club showed him when it made him the highest paid player in the NFL.
But that’s only a guess, kids. Neither Brown nor Palmer has talked since The Mobile Manifest of Jan. 24.
The CBA stalemate begs a compromise. The Bengals can’t trade him even if they wanted to and they can’t get a veteran to replace him. Plus, if they draft one high, they can’t even teach him the offense. It would almost seem best for both parties to do the Boomer Bridge option and have Palmer in place one more year before the deal is done. That could change, but anyone see a CBA resolution before March 4?
SPEAKING OF THE CBA, WHAT’s UP? WILL THE BENGALS PLAY TAG?
Nothing. So trades and free agency look to be null and void come March 4 unless the talks heat up. Best-case scenario is they get close, extend talks for a couple of weeks, and then get something done around March 20. (The NFL meetings are the week of March 21 in New Orleans.)
But no matter what happens, don’t look for the Bengals to use the franchise tag on either of their two key free agents, cornerback Johnathan Joseph or running back Cedric Benson. They want to sign both to long-term deals with sane salary cap hits. But not before the CBA is done because they want to make sure the deals fit whatever system they get.
WHAT IS THE CLUB’S BIGGEST CHALLENGE OF THE LOCKOUT?
New offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is doing it. He’s pumping out the playbook as soon as he can so the players will have it in their hands before the lockout commences and teams are no longer allowed to communicate with players.
The problem is, it’s not like the last work stoppage. In 1987 it came early in the season and the Bengals were already in town. And quarterback Boomer Esiason kept them together and working out. Now, the Bengals will be spread out all over the country and their offense is in transition with Xs and Os and maybe at quarterback.
They’ll have time to get together before some kind of season starts.
But will it be for three weeks or three months?
WHERE ARE THEY IN COMPLETING THEIR COACHING STAFF?
They’ll need to find a new receivers coach (Mike Sheppard is the new Jacksonville quarterbacks coach) and a new defensive assistant with assistant secondary coach Louie Cioffi expected to be named the secondary coach in Arizona on Monday.
Even though the team is staring at no football indefinitely, it figures to replace the two rather quickly. Conventional wisdom is that head coach Marvin Lewis is looking for a guy that is familiar with Gruden or with the concepts he’s running. With Chad Ochocinco’s status seemingly up in the air, this could be the youngest (and least dramatic) group of receivers the Bengals have had since 2002. The Ocho led the team with 69 catches in his second season, followed by Peter Warrick and Ron Dugans in their third seasons, with T.J. Houshmandzadeh, also in his second season, hitting cleanup.
The Bengals may not necessarily be looking for another secondary coach on defense. They have high regard for secondary coach Kevin Coyle’s ability to coach both cornerbacks and safeties.
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