These are more than quarterback rumors.
What I've heard about the veteran quarterback market, keeping in mind that there can be no trades of veteran quarterbacks (Kevin Kolb, Carson Palmer, Donovan McNabb), or no signings of free-agent quarterbacks (Marc Bulger, Alex Smith) until the start of the new league year, and that could start either with a new collective bargaining agreement or with a judge imposing an injunction on the NFL lockout and forcing the league to reopen business:
Carson Palmer is serious about not going back to Cincinnati. I've heard Marvin Lewis is acknowledging to people he knows in football that Palmer won't be back in Cincinnati, and the Bengals are looking into all of the top quarterback prospects. "Marvin knows how stubborn Carson is, and he thinks no matter what happens, the guy won't change his mind,'' said one club executive. I believe that. But that doesn't mean the Bengals will deal him either.
Palmer's not Carl Pickens or Corey Dillon, a disaffected star who was divisive in the locker room. He's been a classy franchise quarterback since stepping on campus in 2003. He's the team's billboard, though he's had a couple of shaky years in a row. The Bengals don't have a history of responding well to threats. What makes this interesting, though, is that Cincinnati would be able to get something decent for Palmer in trade. He's 31. He's healthy. He'd love to play in California (you listening, Jim Harbaugh?) and I'm sure would settle for Arizona.
If both San Francisco and Arizona pass on a rookie high in the draft April 28, or pass on trading for Kevin Kolb of the Eagles, they'd be my leaders in the clubhouse -- joined by Minnesota -- in the race for Palmer. All of that could all be moot, of course, because of Bengals owner Mike Brown. He doesn't care much for, nor is affected by, a player holding him hostage, never mind a player Brown has grown to like a lot as a man.
Andy Reid apparently is serious about trading Kevin Kolb. At the NFL meetings Sunday, a good source told me Reid already has one team willing to offer a first-round pick for Kolb, and now he's looking for a team with a higher choice in the round to make him a better deal.
My take: I'd trade a very high draft pick to acquire Kolb instead of drafting one of the quarterbacks available this year. I'd want to reduce the risk of making a mistake high in the draft by taking the safe guy with ability? Kolb's 26. He's a coach's son. He's had some struggles running the Eagles offense in his seven career starts, but I saw him ruin the soon-to-be Super Bowl champion Saints with a 391-yard strafing in 2009; he played well enough to rout the playoff-bound Falcons and throw for 326 yards last season.
We've seen him do it. All the rookies have question marks. I know I'd sleep better at night with Kolb on my team this summer.
Arizona could be the landing spot for Marc Bulger ... if the Cardinals don't pick a quarterback in the first round, and maybe even if they do. Coach Ken Whisenhunt seems likely to be in the market for a bridge quarterback, even though he has not totally given up hope on Max Hall. Bulger wants to give starting one more shot, and where better than in an offense with Larry Fitzgerald on the receiving end of passes.
The case of Steve Sabol.
The news is tough for the NFL Films czar. Five weeks after he got the soaring news that his dad, NFL Films founder Ed Sabol, was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Sabol was told the reason for his seizure at a Kansas City banquet Feb. 5: He has a tumor in his brain, which doctors will try to shrink through chemotherapy and radiation.
Steve Sabol is at home in New Jersey now; I'm told he was his old self, making jokes about himself and anything else he could think of over the weekend. He's girding for the fight of his life, obviously. I've asked people on Twitter and in the column to e-mail Sabol their thoughts at Sabol.NFLFilms@NFL.com, and today I'll ask those who want to drop him a card to do so at:
1 NFL Films Plaza
Mount Laurel, NJ 08054
He loves hearing from you. I know he does. And I know how much so many of you love what Sabol has done over the years. For so many, he's been a lifeline to a love of football. Well, that lifeline needs you now. Drop him a note if you can. Thanks.
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