NFL

Carson Palmer Gives Joe Burrow 1 Big Warning About the Bengals

As is the case with 29 other franchises, the Cincinnati Bengals will be home watching Super Bowl LIV as the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs battle for the title of the best team in pro football.

But those Bengals assume a position of power over the other 29 wanna-be champions as soon as the Super Bowl concludes. That’s when the clock starts counting down to the NFL draft, and Cincinnati holds the No. 1 selection.

It’s what the Bengals could potentially do with the top overall pick on April 23 that has former Bengals QB Carson Palmer issuing a warning to college star Joe Burrow, who is widely regarded as the player who will be taken before all others.

Carson Palmer questions the Cincinnati Bengals’ commitment

Carson Palmer spent most of his college career in a struggling USC program before Pete Carroll restored the Trojans to elite status for the quarterback’s senior season. Little did he know that the years of mediocrity were preparing him for his first pro job.

The Cincinnati Bengals made Palmer the No. 1 pick in 2003 and he would help guide them to the playoffs in his second season as the starting quarterback. Alas, the Bengals were one-and-done in that postseason and again in 2009 in his other playoff appearance there. The team was .500 or worse in his other five seasons.

“That’s why I wanted out. I never felt like the organization was really trying to win a Super Bowl, and really chasing the Super Bowl,” Palmer said in an interview.  “Because that’s what today’s day and age is. The game today is you can’t just hope you draft well and not go after free agents and you just end up in the Super Bowl. You gotta go get it.”

Carson Palmer gets to see how it’s done right

The Bengals traded Carson Palmer to the Oakland Raiders midway through the 2011 season, and it wasn’t until he was dealt again before the 2013 draft that the quarterback felt he had joined an organization serious about competing.

It may say something about the overall state of the Bengals that Palmer has much more fond memories of his days with the Arizona Cardinals, another franchise with a history of repeated failures before his arrival.

“(Owner Michael Bidwill) was all about winning. Everything was about winning. The culture was about winning. And we — very fortunately — the year before I got to Arizona, I think they won a couple games or three or four games. And Michael Bidwill dug his feet in the ground, and I saw an owner say we’re gonna go after this.”

Those Arizona Cardinals were 34-14 in Palmer’s first three years, twice making the playoffs.

“When the organization is completely behind doing what it takes to win, and you’ve got the right players, then that’s the recipe for a Super Bowl,” Palmer added.

Joe Burrow appears to have a bright future

Joe Burrow is coming off a dynamic senior season as the quarterback for LSU, shooting way up the boards in NFL team draft rooms. Palmer is bullish on his future, citing a “dynamic skill set.”

If drafted by the Bengals, he could give them a jolt that’s been missing under Andy Dalton, whose record as a starter slipped from 7-9 to 5-6 to 2-11 in the past three years.

The question that will have to be answered is how much of the Bengals’ futility has been Dalton’s fault. Cincinnati hasn’t won a playoff game since 1990, so laying all the blame at Dalton’s cleats is disingenuous at best.

Assuming they select Burrow, the Bengals’ work doesn’t stop there. As Palmer suggested, the team needs multiple strong drafts and free-agent signings that will cost money to put a 2-14 season behind them and give fans a reason to be optimistic.