CINCINNATI (AP) – The Bengals have Carson Palmer’s replacement onboard.
With their franchise quarterback insisting he wants out, the Bengals took TCU’s Andy Dalton in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday night, their second straight pick aimed at replacing one of their most important players.
They took A.J. Green from Georgia with the fourth overall pick in the opening round, bringing in a receiver who can take over for Chad Ochocinco, the franchise’s all-time leading pass catcher. One round later, they brought in a new quarterback.
“That was good,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “We spent a lot of time on this, no question. It’s a big, important, important pick, important piece.”
Dalton quickly will get the chance to become the next face of one of the NFL’s most dysfunctional franchises. The Bengals have only two winning records in the last 20 years, going through quarterbacks at a pell-mell pace while continuing to lose regularly.
“He’s going to be a great quarterback in this league, in my opinion,” new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said. “He’s going to get a lot of opportunity to do that, come in here and compete for the job right away. What else do you want as a rookie quarterback?”
Depending upon what happens with Palmer, Dalton could get a chance to run the offense in a few months — a stunning change for a team that made the playoffs only two years ago.
The Bengals hit a franchise low point last season, matching the club record by losing 10 in a row and finishing 4-12 with an offense built around Palmer, receivers Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, and running back Cedric Benson. It was so alarming that Lewis played out his contract, unsure he wanted to stay.
After two days of talks with owner Mike Brown, the coach agreed to an extension. Then, Palmer said he wanted out, asking for a trade. He told Brown that he’d rather retire than return. Brown has so far refused, leaving them in a stalemate.
Ochocinco has a year left on his contract, but thinks he’ll be released. Owens won’t be back. And Benson is a free agent.
There’s a lot of change going around, and Dalton is suddenly at the center of it.
“It seems like a lot of guys might not be around,” Dalton said, in a conference call.
Having Dalton around could make the Bengals more comfortable with the thought of trading Palmer, although Lewis sidestepped questions about a trade on Friday.
“We’re not talking about that,” Lewis said. “This is Andy Dalton’s day. It’s a great day.”
The pick totally rearranges the Bengals’ depth chart at the position. Their No. 2 quarterback is Jordan Palmer, who is Carson’s younger brother. Jordan Palmer has never started an NFL game. Third-string quarterback Dan LeFevour was a rookie last season who never got into a game.
Dalton could quickly move to the top of the list. Lewis thinks he can be ready to start next season.
“I feel real confident in that, if he had to,” Lewis said. “I really do. And I think that’s what really drew us to keeping our fingers crossed so much, what we felt was his maturity and his readiness to be able to stop in.”
The pick didn’t surprise Jordan Palmer, who led workouts in California this week with Bengals receivers, tight ends and running backs.
“I kind of figured that with the situation right now, you need to start picking for the future,” Jordan Palmer said, in a phone interview. “He’s a high-value guy right there. I wasn’t really surprised.
“As far as him coming in, I think it was a good pick. All I want is a chance to compete.”
The Bengals chose Dontay Moch from Nevada in the third round, a pick for down the line. Moch played mostly defensive end in college, and the Bengals plan to turn him into a linebacker. He’ll be a special teams and third-down player initially.