TEMPE, Ariz. — Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown stirred the pot ahead of Sunday’s game against Arizona and his former quarterback when he questioned Carson Palmer’s honesty. When given the chance to respond on Wednesday, Palmer poured little more than cold water into the stew.
“I’m not going to get into a he said, she said situation with Mike Brown,” Palmer said. “We obviously disagreed and it ended in a very colorful, heated argument. We disagree with each other and that’s how it ended, but now is not the time or place to get into what he said.”
In an interview with FOX Sports’ Alex Marvez, Brown said he was disappointed with the way Palmer’s Bengals tenure ended. He said Palmer expressed doubts about the longevity of his career as he tried to force a trade out of Cincinnati in 2011.
“We sat here in the office on a couple of occasions and argued about what the future should be for him and us,” Brown told Marvez. “Whether he really believed it or not, I rather doubt, but my argument then with him was, ‘You’re a top quarterback and you’ve got real productive years in front of you.’
“He would say to me, ‘Oh no. I’m all beat up. I’ll be lucky to play another year or two,’ which I didn’t take to heart.”
The Bengals eventually traded Palmer to Oakland in the middle of the 2011 season for first- and second-round draft picks. By now, it should be clear to everyone that Palmer had more than a year or two left in the tank.
Through nine games, Palmer, 35, ranks fourth in the NFL in passing yards (2,749), second in touchdowns (23) and second in passer rating (108) as the Cardinals (7-2) take on the Bengals (8-1) Sunday night at University of Phoenix Stadium. His name has even entered the MVP discussion.
“Right now, he’s in a very comfortable place with a lot of guys he trusts,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “When you’re that way as a quarterback you’re going to play pretty well.”
Palmer acknowledged that facing the Bengals is not just another game after spending the first seven years of his career there, but when given another chance to tell his side of the story, Palmer repeated the same thing he’s said since arriving in Arizona — that he would do so at the appropriate time.
When asked when that time might be, Palmer said: “Not in Week 11. Myself and this team are focused on Week 11. Not 2011.”
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said he has positive memories of Palmer, who “left a lot to build on here.” Aside from some basic praise of Palmer’s play, however, Lewis didn’t want to talk much about Palmer when he spoke to Arizona media members on a conference call Wednesday.
“Carson plays for the Cardinals now, alright?” he said. “We shouldn’t dwell on Carson. He’s a fine player. We drafted him No. 1 overall. Outstanding player here — and person.”
The Bengals aren’t exactly suffering at the quarterback position in Palmer’s absence. Andy Dalton, 28, ranks ninth in the NFL in passing yards (2,423), ninth in TDs (18) and fourth in passer rating at (104.6). Dalton took over in the 2011 season while Palmer was holding out after a trade request in the offseason that led the Bengals to place him on the reserve/did not report list.
“I had so many other things I was worried about. I was trying to learn so I wouldn’t say it was awkward,” said Dalton, who has cut down on the interceptions that plagued the first four years of his career. “It was just one of those things that you thought, in the back of your mind, ‘What if he eventually just shows up one day?’ and things would be different, but it all worked out.”
Palmer has already played the Bengals since leaving Cincinnati. The Bengals beat the visiting Raiders, 34-10, on Nov. 25, 2012 when Palmer completed 19-of-34 passes for 146 yards, a TD and an interception for Oakland. Palmer was also eager to escape Oakland after two seasons, but his career has been revitalized since coming to Arizona and playing in Arians’ offense.
“He just looks relaxed and comfortable and confident and those are some goals that every quarterback has,” Cardinals backup QB Drew Stanton said. “He has this perfect storm coming together. He’s mature enough to handle all of the pressure that comes his way, but he also has a comfort level you pray for because he’s seen everything there is to see.”
Arians thinks the Bengals angle is being forced this week by media.
“I think it’s long history,” Arians said. “It’s not about that any more. It’s about the game this week.”
Perhaps sensing the headlines he was creating with his statements, Brown was also quick to heap praise on Palmer.
“I like Carson Palmer personally,” Brown told Marvez. “I did when he was here. I regret it broke apart the way it did. I don’t want him to beat us any more than he wants us to beat him. I’m sure that will be in the back of his mind. But other than that, I wish him well.
“I look at him play and I see the player that we had when he was here. When he’s on and playing the way he can play, he is a big-time winning quarterback.”