CINCINNATI — The Bengals reversed course and were negotiating a trade Tuesday that would send quarterback Carson Palmer to the Oakland Raiders, a person familiar with the discussions told The Associated Press.
The Bengals had been adamant that they wouldn't trade Palmer, who hasn't played since the end of last season. The franchise quarterback decided he wanted out of Cincinnati, which has only two winning records in the last 20 years.
Owner Mike Brown repeatedly insisted he wouldn't consider Palmer's request for a trade because he didn't want to reward him for holding out. He changed his mind after the Raiders offered a first-round pick as part of a package for the 31-year-old quarterback, according to the person familiar with the talks, speaking on condition of anonymity because no deal was done.
The Raiders (4-2) became desperate for a quarterback after Jason Campbell broke his collarbone during a win over the Browns on Sunday. Oakland was left with Kyle Boller as the starter.
The message board by the entrance to the Bengals' locker room Tuesday had an anonymous scrawled message: "Let My People Goooooo!" Otherwise, there wasn't much reaction from a team that had moved on from Palmer a long time ago.
"I don't think even one player in this locker room's even thought about that," left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. "We haven't worried about it. We've gone forward with the guys we have and tried to play as good as we can and that's all we can do."
"I think guys respect him," he added. "You realize that he didn't want to be here and he didn't believe in this place, and you go forward. You still respect him as a friend and the years we put in together, but you realize that he just made a choice he felt was best for him and his family."
If the Raiders hadn't made a first-round pick as part of its offer, the Bengals were content to let Palmer sit out the entire season and consider trading him next year. Campbell's injury changed the scenario.
Palmer would be a good fit with the Raiders, who like to throw downfield. Palmer won the Heisman Trophy at Southern California after the 2002 season and was the first overall pick in the following NFL draft. Raiders coach Hue Jackson was the offensive coordinator at USC from 1997-2000 and a Bengals assistant from 2004-06, working with the receivers.
Palmer agreed to a contract extension that runs through 2014. The Raiders would likely renegotiate Palmer's deal, which includes $1 million roster bonuses each of the next three years and base salaries of $11.5 million, $13 million and $14 million in 2014.
The Bengals (4-2) severed ties with Palmer when the season started and he didn't show up, giving his locker to second-round draft pick Andy Dalton. Brown insisted he wouldn't trade Palmer because that would set a precedent.
"He's going to walk away from his commitment," Brown said as the season started. "We aren't going to reward him for doing it."
As recently as Monday afternoon, coach Marvin Lewis reiterated that there was no change in the team's position regarding Palmer, who led the Bengals to their only two winning seasons in the last 20 years.
Running back Cedric Benson wasn't surprised Brown made an abrupt about-face.
"The NFL is a business and deals get done," Benson said. "In business, oftentimes things are said and they're very rarely ever meant. So I'm sure the right deal presented itself."
Palmer was one of the NFL's top passers in 2005, when they won the AFC North. Pittsburgh's Kimo von Oelhoffen crashed into his left knee after he threw his first pass in a first-round playoff game. The Bengals lost, and Palmer needed reconstructive knee surgery.
He partially tore a ligament and tendon in his passing elbow during the 2008 season, but led the Bengals to another division title the following year with a run-based offense. The Bengals teamed receiver Terrell Owens with Chad Ochocinco last season, but finished 4-12.
Lewis played out his contract, saying he wanted to see if the organization was committed to doing things the right way. He agreed to stay even though Brown said there would be no significant changes in the front office. A week later, Palmer said he wanted out.