INDIANAPOLIS — As far as Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is concerned, he’s moving forward under the impression that disgruntled veteran QB Carson Palmer will not be traded.
But the reality of what that means for the Bengals, and whether or not they can proceed expecting Palmer to be a part of the team, has yet to be determined following the QB’s offseason trade demand and owner Mike Brown‘s rejection of it.
“I think we just have to move forward in saying (that) I know that my boss and owner is not going to trade (Palmer), so we have to move forward and go forward with what he said,” Lewis said Friday during an interview with NFL Network at the NFL Scouting Combine. “That kind of puts some closure in my mind to things that we’re going to go forward and put the team together based on that. We have to get better at the quarterback spot, we have to get better at a number of positions on offense.”
Lewis maintained he can only “go by what I know and what I’ve been told” about Palmer’s future with the team, an apparent acknowledgment of the possibility that the QB would choose to retire instead of return to the Bengals. But the coach is staying out of the speculation game.
“I don’t know what will happen with Carson in the future with that,” Lewis said. “I don’t want to spend a lot of time speculating on it. I’m just going to let it go. Everything has been said, I’ve said nothing about it. Mike and Carson have said their deal, and we’ll go forward.”
It could very well be that the Bengals are proceeding as if Palmer won’t return. The Bengals own the No. 4 overall pick in April’s draft and could see both of the consensus top QBs — Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton — still available. Lewis said off set that none of the current situation surrounding Palmer’s future changes the team’s draft strategy.
“I don’t think it changes what we were thinking about already in making the team better, one way or the other,” Lewis said. “So we’re going to evaluate that. I thought it was a position, coming into this season, where we were and where Carson was in his career, that you want to start grooming (another player). Last year, we looked at possibly adding a quarterback and made the changes we made last year at two other spots. So, it doesn’t change it one way or the other.”
It all comes across as an elaborate tap dance by Lewis, who also didn’t dismiss the suggestion that adding a veteran QB also was a possibility.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said.