From one Bengals No. 9 quarterback to another, Carson Palmer is trying to pass on some advice to Joe Burrow.
On NBC’s “Brother from Another,” Palmer, the Cincinnati signal-caller for seven years, said that no matter how Super Bowl 56 ends up, Burrow is going to have to contemplate whether he re-signs with the team when his contract is up.
“Joe Burrow’s sitting there going, ‘We’ve got $60 million in cap space. Are they going to sit on 40 of it and frugally spend 20? Or are they going to go after and build this thing around me and build this thing around my future contract that I’m probably going to sign in 2024, 2025?” Palmer said.
Palmer went on to compare the Bengals to their opponents in Los Angeles, the Rams, who have made a big investment in the 2021 season in trading for Matthew Stafford and making other big acquisitions such as Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. to push for a title this season.
“The Bengals have never done what the Rams have done. They’ve traded away draft picks. They’ve made big splashes in free agency. They’ve got the best defensive tackle in the game, the best corner in the game, and you can go across that roster and how those guys got here. It’s not just sitting in the draft and hoping somebody falls to them. They have pursued the pieces that they’ve added to the puzzle.”
The Bengals took Burrow first overall in the 2020 NFL Draft and proceeded to make a number of signings in the offseason between the 2020 and 2021 seasons. They added defensive end Trey Hendrickson, cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, right tackle Riley Reiff, cornerback Mike Hilton, cornerback Eli Apple and safety Ricardo Allen, all of whom have made a major impact on the rapid turnaround of the team.
According to Spotrac, they have the fourth-most cap space heading into 2022 of any team in the NFL.
Palmer praised the fan base in Ohio — both of the Bengals and the Browns — but said he has no relationship with the franchise.
“We’ve got great friends, folks that live in our neighborhood, went to our church, kids’ school. I mean I’m back in Cincinnati two, three times a year,” Palmer said. “But I don’t have a relationship with the front office guys.”
The Bengals ownership has often been the subject of criticism both from fans and the rest of the NFL community. Cincinnati is one of the few teams in the league without an indoor practice facility despite often brutally cold temperatures. Ahead of Super Bowl 56, the Bengals practiced at the indoor facility of the Cincinnati Bearcats, a college football team in the American Athletic Conference.
Cincinnati also has the smallest scouting department in the NFL with just eight people — six fully entrenched — according to The Athletic. Mike Brown, the owner and de facto general manager of the team since 1991, has also been criticized for his lack of spending on either free agents or front office personnel.
Palmer and Burrow had near identical paths to the NFL. Palmer won the Heisman Trophy and was drafted first overall by the Bengals in the 2003 NFL Draft, and took over as the starting quarterback in 2004. Like Burrow, he energized the team in his second full season as a starter — 2005 — leading Cincinnati to an 11-5 record with a 67.8 completion percentage, 32 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and 3,836 passing yards.
With Palmer under center, the Bengals reached the playoffs twice: 2005 and 2009. That first year, Palmer completed only one pass, during which he was tackled by Kimo von Oelhoffen of the Steelers, who tore the ACL and MCL in his knee, ending his season.
Palmer had signed a six-year extension with the Bengals in 2005 that was set to keep him in Cincinnati through 2014. But as the years passed, his relationship with the team soured. He requested a trade from the organization in 2010 and threatened to retire if he wasn’t sent out. Palmer sat out the start of the 2011 season, and when Andy Dalton took over the starting role Palmer was traded to the Raiders.
Palmer said Burrow has plenty of leverage with the team if he is going to re-sign with them and remain a Bengal for the long haul. Palmer said when he was with the Bengals, he wanted the team to improve its scouting department, but that he only had a verbal agreement and never got it in writing.
“You need to hire a GM, you need to improve the scouting department, you need to get our facilities up to par with everybody else’s. Every other team has chiropractors and physical and all these different things and there was a verbal agreement. Joe needs to get that on paper. They need to show and prove that they’re willing to do what it takes to get Joe seven or (Ja’Marr) Chase seven Super [Bowl rings],” Palmer said. “If history is any sign of repeating itself, then Joe’s in an interesting situation in two years when he’s up for a contract. If they haven’t fortified that offensive line, if they haven’t spent all the money they have. They’ve got $60 or $58 million in cap space. Are they going to go out and use it, and use it correctly? Or are they going to sit on half of it.”