Bengals QB Palmer signs extension through 2014
CINCINNATI -- Soon after he arrived from Southern California in 2003, quarterback Carson Palmer decided he had found the perfect place to settle down and spend a career.
Now, there's no reason to leave.
The Cincinnati Bengals reworked and extended Palmer's contract on Thursday, giving themselves more salary cap flexibility and a chance to keep their franchise quarterback through 2014.
They added six years to a deal that still had three to go, providing Palmer with a chance to make $118.75 million in salary and bonuses over the next nine years. He very well could spend the rest of his career in stripes.
"Hopefully this is the last place I'll end up playing," Palmer said. "That's so rare in this league these days. It's so rare to see a person have a 5-, 8-, 10-, 12-year career in one place. And I feel very fortunate that it looks like that's going to be my future."
The Bengals spent millions of dollars and the better part of a dozen years trying to find the quarterback who would lead them out of one of the longest slumps in NFL history, no winning record from 1991-2004.
The Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 draft pick turned out to be the one.
"Carson does not change," coach Marvin Lewis said. "That's been the best part of Carson Palmer, from the first time I met him through all of the time spent with him prior to the draft.
"The way he handled himself through everything has been just great. That helps us with the rest of our football team, how they handle themselves."
The Bengals approached Palmer's agent, David Dunn, about an extension a few months ago. The reworked deal gives the team more salary cap room -- bonuses are prorated over the life of the contract for accounting purposes -- and a chance to keep more veterans around.
"It's a very wise move for a team to wrap up the players that they have identified as critical to the franchise's success," Dunn said. "Once you wrap them up, it's far easier to plan."
The Bengals were the only team in the NFL to return its offense intact this season. Receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh and running back Rudi Johnson got offseason extensions, and receiver Chad Johnson got a five-year extension near the end of the 2003 season.
Several offensive linemen have contracts expiring in the next two years. Palmer hopes the club uses the financial flexibility from his restructured deal to keep them around.
"That was my main concern, something that could help us out in the future," Palmer said. "Hopefully we can keep those guys around. Hopefully some of those guys up front want to stick around for a while.
"We know what we've got and we can build around this core group of guys."
Under the reworked deal, Palmer will get a $15 million bonus -- paid on Feb. 16 -- and a base salary of $6.75 million next season. The Bengals owe him a $9 million option by Jan. 1, 2007; they'll have the option of letting the rest of the deal take effect or nullifying it at that time, but have to pay the same amount either way.
His base salaries will increase during the deal, topping out at $14 million in 2014. He'll also get $1 million roster bonuses for each of his last three seasons, bringing the total amount of the reworked, nine-year deal to $118.75 million.
Players weren't available for interviews after the extension was announced. Earlier in the week, Chad Johnson supported the local chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America in honoring Palmer as the team's most valuable player.
"He makes the offense go," Johnson said. "Everything starts with him. He's deserving of it. It's early in his career and to get that award this early, to have people thinking of him as the MVP, means a lot."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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