Kevin McCune

Over the years, Carson Palmer’s critics have scrutinized the quarterback’s lack of vocal leadership. Palmer has developed a reputation of being a passive persona in the locker room. That’s a big knock for a guy playing a position that requires more leadership than arguably any other in professional sports.

While reports of Palmer’s passive nature may be slightly exaggerated by the media, most all exaggerations come from at least slight truths. Palmer should have spoken up a long time ago and demanded control of the Cincinnati Bengals locker room, say like at least five to seven years ago. He should have taken ownership of the team instead of just being another football player in a towel.

He, however, allowed diva receivers like Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens voices to be heard louder than him. He never questioned Bob Bratkowski’s stale offense. No, he simply bowed his head, followed orders and took a knee every time he thought he caught the defense jumping offsides, leading to who knows how many free plays wasted.

The only person Palmer has ever criticized at a microphone is himself. Humbly he has taken the blame for when aforementioned receivers didn’t finish routes leading to easy interceptions or when ragtag offensive line units resulted in Palmer eating turf. He could have blamed historically inconsistent defenses that gave up leads or an offensive coordinator who calls the most predictable plays in the league. Palmer always took the weight of the team’s failures squarely on his shoulders.

The weight, it seems, has finally become too much to bear. For the first time in his life, Palmer demanded something, a trade. Maybe he should have tried demanding respect from his teammates and coaches, grabbed a certain receiver or two in the huddle by the facemask and told them to shut up and play.

To most Bengals fans this might seem like a disaster, but is it really? Carson has thrown 20 interceptions in a season twice in the last four years. At 31, he’s no spring chick. His body’s been banged up for years with major injuries to his knee and elbow.

The Bengals are in rebuilding mode, so does it really make a lot of sense to build around a quarterback who is bruised, aged and on the decline? Cincinnati has the fourth pick in the draft, so perhaps building around a young signal caller and playmaker like Cam Newton would be a wiser investment toward the future. Who knows, maybe they could even add Donovan McNabb as a free agent for Newton to learn under for a year. Then, of course, there’s always the Kevin Kolb option, since Kolb has demanded a trade from Philly if the Philadelphia Eagles resign Michael Vick.

There would certainly be interested trade partners for Palmer in teams like the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals. It would also bring the added advantage of dropping the dead weight of his little brother, Jordan, from the roster.

If Palmer does end up leaving, let me be the first to salute him as he runs away from his own failure to develop into a leader as well as thank him for all of the years of incredible mediocrity he has given Bengal fans.