People seem to think Bengals owner Mike Brown isn't particularly intelligent.
Maybe we should think again.
He took the No. 1 pick of the 2003 draft, QB Carson Palmer, got two division championships out of the team and 2,024-for-3,217 passing (62.9 percent) for 154 touchdowns and a 86.9 passer rating out of Palmer, then traded him for two more first round picks.
Buy kind-of-high, sell insanely high.
Oakland sensed desperation with the injury to veteran QB Jason Campbell, and largely mortgaged their future to bring Palmer in, who hasn't attempted a pass since the end of a horrific 2010, where Palmer turned the ball over 23 times en route to a 4-12 season.
The trade left Oakland with just a fifth and a sixth round pick in the 2012 draft.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the trade was for a 2012 first-round pick, and a conditional 2013 first-round pick. It would depend on what, exactly, the conditions are, but it's likely to be similar to the deal the Jets traded Green Bay for QB Brett Favre in 2007, which was based on playing time, and was converted to a 3rd round pick. It had the potential of being a first, had Favre basically re-written the NFL passing record books.
Either way, it's a complete steal for Cincinnati. In comparison, the Minnesota Vikings traded sixth-round picks in 2011 and 2012 to Washington for QB Donovan McNabb, who's 2011 numbers so far are, at worst, similar to Palmer's in 2010. Minnesota is 1-5, and could replace McNabb with rookie Christian Ponder in Week 7.
It becomes even more one-sided, considering the Bengals reached their 2010 win total in just six weeks under second-round rookie QB Andy Dalton. A revived defensive effort has sparked the Bengals this season, and appear to be in it for the long haul this season.
Maybe Oakland believes in the Mayan Prophecy that the world will end in December of 2012. Or maybe Rachel Phelps, formerly of the Cleveland Indians, took over for Al Davis. It's unclear exactly what Oakland sees in Palmer, a QB who's grown progressively worse since 2007. He hasn't sniffed the 101 passer rating he earned in 2005, or even the 93 rating he got in 2006. Injuries have taken their toll on the former Pro Bowl passer, and the teams he's been on have gotten worse with him, and even won despite him in 2009.
Adding in his gigantic contract, the Raiders acquired a passer who's stats show he's on decline, flat-out said he was willing to quit (a great characteristic of a leader) last year and hasn't played more than pick-up football since a season-ending loss to Baltimore on Jan. 2, 2011.
Did anyone tell Oakland any of this?
What's worse, Cleveland presumably had scandalous pictures of members of the Falcons ownership group, and agreed to destroy them only if Atlanta offered up a pile of picks for the 6th overall choice last year.
As BTSC's John Stephens mentioned earlier, Atlanta traded its 2011 first-round (27th overall), second-round (54th) and fourth-round (124th) picks, and their 2012 first and fourth round picks for Cleveland's first-round (6th overall) in 2011. The Falcons drafted Julio Jones, the Browns likely hired 20 more scouts to watch extensively the 2012 draft class.
Cleveland and Cincinnati, the perennial AFC North cellar-dwellers, now own 12.5 percent of the 2012 first round draft picks. Unfortunately for the Steelers, they aren't in the AFC West with Oakland.
Brown played this masterfully. He not only won the battle with Palmer by refusing to give into his trade at the beginning of the season, when Palmer would have had a chance to pick up an offense, he got two future first-round picks to bolster a team on the rise while sending his enemy to the NFL's version of Siberia. He also sent a staunch message to the entire league, "SOMEone will give me a king's ransom for you if you threaten to retire, but since Oakland doesn't have a first-round pick until two years after the next presidential election, if you choose not to play for your team, you're gonna be sitting for quite a while."
It may be 11 a.m. in Cincinnati, but he's probably toasting beers as I type this.