According to SI.com's Peter King, Mike Brown's ability to get the Oakland Raiders to agree to a "borderline swindle" in the trade for Carson Palmer makes Brown a candidate for NFL Executive of the Year. King tweeted that remark following the announcement of the trade and repeated those sentiments when interviewed by Mo Egger on 1530-AM. King lauded Brown for his patience both in the Palmer situation and in his drafting of AJ Green and Andy Dalton, confirming that Atlanta had offered the Bengals a similar package that they gave the Cleveland Browns to get Julio Jones in order to move up and select Green themselves.
The reaction around the NFL was uniformly positive for Brown and the Bengals ability to get a 2012 first rounder and a conditional 2013 pick that could become a first rounder. Brown, who had previously remained adamant about not trading Palmer, "was given an offer he couldn't refuse" according to ESPN's John Clayton.
The reaction from the Bengals locker room was more subdued. All who commented said they were happy for Palmer, but that they had long ago moved on and thus the move didn't really impact the team. Andrew Whitworth, who has emerged as the team's leader told the Enquirer's Joe Reedy:
"We haven’t put another thought to it. It’s not anything we’ve thought about or worried about. We’ve been here to put in work and try to be the best team we can be, and that’s what we’re striving for now.”
Marvin Lewis was a bit more excited in his press conference Tuesday afternoon. He admitted that the Palmer situation had been a bit of a distraction and was happy to move on. He credited Mike Brown for his "patience" saying "My boss is a whole lot more patient than I am. You don't want to play poker with that man."
Palmer was obviously happy to be playing again. He told the Enquirer that he had hoped to be traded following the ratification of the new CBA because "it made sense" and that he was glad that "Mr. Brown finally realized that." I'm sure the Raiders increased offering made it much more sensible for Brown.
Mike Brown has undergone much criticism during his 20 plus years as Bengals CEO, much of it rightly so. The Bengals record of futility during his tenure speaks for itself. The past six months, however, Brown has exercised an uncommon wisdom in his personnel moves.
Bringing back Marvin Lewis and Mike Zimmer was a smart move, even with many calling for change at the top. With a lockout looming, this move preserved some continuity within the organization. Letting offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski go and bringing in Jay Gruden was another good move as the offensive system had clearly run its course. Bratkowski's departure also signaled the departure of Chad Ochocinco, a move that has been universally hailed as the turning point in establishing a more positive team culture.
During the draft, Brown not only turned down the Falcons' overtures for Green, it was also known that he favored Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallet who eventually went to New England. Brown yielded to the wishes of his head coach and offensive coordinator who coveted Dalton and his more natural fit to Gruden's system.
And while many criticized Brown's hard-line stance with Palmer's "retirement," Brown steadfastly refused simply to jettison his disaffected franchise player for just any offer. ESPN's Adam Schefter confirmed he knew for certain that Pete Carroll and the Seahawks had made an offer for Palmer and that there were likely others. Brown held firm, believing he could get more for Palmer.
In the end, he got a King's ransom for a 31 year-old quarterback who's shown clear signs of declining and has suffered knee and elbow injuries. Palmer very well could guide the Raiders to the playoffs, but Mike Brown has clearly won this showdown and in the process established a foundation for his team's success for years to come. That's what good executives do.
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