Around the National Football League (© Ron Jaworski) these days, you will hear rumblings and grumblings here and there about an owner trying to solve his quarterbacking issues by fighting with his franchise quarterback over the lack of success by the franchise, to which the quarterback has threatened retirement and basically told the owner he can go shit in his hat, and you will be surprised when the realization is that it IS NOT Al Davis. For a man whose father is considered one of the greatest early innovators in modern football, Mike Brown runs his franchise with the skillset of an upturned mop with a bucket for a head. He is the Vince Naimoli of the NFL, a man who will force more work on employees in order to cut costs, and save money at any area possible, leaving enough for salaries and the smallest amounts of benefits available to his players and staff. For those unfamiliar, Naimoli is the former Tampa Bay Rays owner who once told a diabetic woman in a wheel chair that she could not bring her own food into the ballpark, and informed a national anthem-playing high school band that they would have to pay admission. For what it’s worth, the band cancelled their appearance at the Tropicana Dome. Slashing costs to the bone is a fantastic way to get a struggling business back to the black, but not an effective way to run a sports franchise. Look at Mark Cuban. Robert Kraft. Jim Irsay. John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino. The late George Steinbrenner. All of those owners have poured money into their franchises, and came away with wild amounts of success, and have also turned a substantial profit in the process.
That brings me to my next point. The Bengals suck. Because Mike Brown refuses to spend money on his franchise, NOBODY wants to play there. Carson Palmer requested a trade, one that was rebuffed by Brown. Brown is a man who believes in loyalty, which is commendable as a human trait. But when it becomes a point where he expects the players to give their all, and he not pry open that chastity-belted checkbook of his to help the team back, he is a one-way street. Chad Ocho Cinco got out. Corey Dillon got out long ago. But why will Brown not grant Palmer his wish? In Brown’s words: “Carson signed a contract. He made a commitment. He gave his word. We relied on his word. We relied on his commitment. We expected him to perform here. He’s going to walk away from his commitment. We aren’t going to reward him for doing it.” This man just refuses to better his franchise by getting something for a player who obviously DOES NOT WANT TO BE THERE.
You have got to be smoking some serious peyote if you try to tell me the Bungals cannot get something for their franchise quarterback. Prior to being placed on the Failed to Report list, I would have ranked Palmer as the tenth best quarterback in the National Football League, just behind Eli Manning of the New York Football Giants, and just ahead of Bucs signal-caller Josh Freeman. In my humble opinion, Brown could pry two second-round picks, or even a conditional first-rounder, from five-to-eight franchises as they are presently constructed.
The Definitely Maybes
9. Denver Broncos
The Broncos unsuccessfully tried to unload incumbent starter Kyle Orton every second of every day between the end of the lockout and the first preseason game, where they then realized that their two backup quarterbacks were Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow, both awful choices for John Fox if he hopes to keep his job, and are really career United Football League starters at best from what we have all seen thus far. Orton will likely remain the starter in the Mile High City until either Quinn shows he has even just a little bit of Bryan Hoyer in him, or Tebow decided to stop turning water into Gatorade, whichever comes first.
8. Tennessee Titans
The Titans signed Matt Hasselbeck to take over for the immortal Kerry Collins and the woefully inconsistent Vince Young, who was so atrocious last year that when Collins was out for a week, Jeff Fisher chose to start the man, the myth, the legend: Rusty Smith. Hasselbeck can be loosely described as a “Game Manager” which is the same title that was bestowed upon the likes of greats Brian Griese, Jay Fiedler, and the aforementioned Kyle Orton. Hasselbeck can get it done, and he is a great seat warmer for first-round pick Jake Locker, so there is little to no chance for Palmer to go here unless Locker’s arms fall off or he by chance runs into JaMarcus Russell at a local McDonalds.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
For those of you who have probably been wondering, Jacksonville still does have an NFL team. David Garrard is the incumbent starter, another game manager, who is keeping the seat warm for first-rounder Blaine Gabbert, which for all intents and purposes, could be somewhere around week seven to ten. Behind Gabbert is Luke McCown, brother of fellow shit-sandwich third-stringer Josh McCown of the 49ers, and Todd Bouman, who was signed so the Jags could have another quarterback for week one of the preseason. Much like the Titans, no Palmer here, as Gabbert is primed and ready to most likely have Jack Del Rio send Garrard out to pasture sooner rather than later.
Could Definitely use the Help, But Who Knows
6. San Francisco 49ers
The Niners have most likely tried the Alex Smith Experiment to its fullest extent. The former number-one overall pick in the 2005 draft has amounted to an average NFL quarterback at best after being the WAC Player of the Year in 2005 while at Utah. Was it living outside of the Mormon-y confines of Utah that may have done him in? I don’t know really, but what I do know is that throwing a ball to a receiver is a little easier for them to catch when the ball isn’t trying to be thrown through them. With former Nevada great Colin Kaepernick as the backup and perennial journeyman/shit-sandwich Josh McCown as the third-stringer, the 49ers have effectively put together an underachieving quarterback core that is about right on par with the rest of the offensively challenged NFC West. Who knows how much longer Jim Harbaugh will put up with Smith, especially considering how Aaron Rodgers just won the Super Bowl after being drafted twenty-one picks behind good ol’ Alex in 2005. (Side note: I wrote this column too late to mention that San Fran sent Daunte Culpepper packing from a training camp invitation. Oh how the mighty have fallen.)
5. Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders. Where do I begin? First off, it started with the JaMarcus Russell draft, where everyone knew that he would eat more McDonalds, than convert successful completions. JaMarcus had a penchant for overthrowing the widest open of receivers on a regular basis, eventually leading to his pink slip in May of 2010. JaMarcus finished with eighteen touchdowns against twenty-three interceptions in his NFL career (I say this barring some unforeseen circumstance in which he somehow miraculously gains a whiff of interest from another team) , and is still making it rain with twentys at the club because of that ill-advised $32 million guaranteed that Al Davis’ Corpse gave him. I am inclined to agree with most in that backup core of former Baltimore Ravens franchise quarterback hopeful and current third-stringer Kyle Boller, former Buffalo Bills franchise quarterback hopeful “Checkdown Trent” Edwards, and the 4,983 person that Al Davis has drafted based on his 40 time in Terelle Pryor, will end up helping former Washington Redskins franchise quarterback hopeful Jason Campbell in any way, shape, or form. Campbell was supposed to be the savior for Daniel Snyder when he was drafted in the same 2005 draft as Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith, but he was flipped to Oakland for a fourth-rounder and has lost his job to the likes of Bruce Gradkowski, who is now a Bengals’ backup. Palmer could help immensely, unless Pryor acclimates to the heavy pay cut he has been forced to take by going pro and becomes a star in the Bay Area.
4. Carolina Panthers
What we do know:
What we don’t know:
Definitely Needs a Quarterback
3. Washington Redskins
2. Miami Dolphins
I only need to say a couple words on this one. I felt as though that Miami’s three-headed monster of Chad Henne, Matt Moore, and Pat Devlin (or Kevin O’Connell, who’s goal in the league seems to be to play for every team in the AFC East) is weaker and in more need of a quarterback than the three-headed monster of Rex Grossman, John Beck, and Kellen Clemens that Washington will sport this season. Matt Moore lost his job to Jimmy Clausen last year. Enough Said.
1. Seattle Seahawks
Any time your team’s starting quarterback is Tavaris Jackson, who looks to be in mid-season form this preseason, and the backup is Chaz Whitehurst, you need a quarterback. Mike Brown could easily pry a couple second-rounders from Seattle, but chooses not to. He instead chooses to do the following when asked about possibly trading his former franchise quarterback:
Palmer: “Mr. Brown I would really appreciate it if you could trade me, or I will take my ball and go home. Can you help me out?”
Thank you, I’ll be here all week.