CINCINNATI - The Carson Palmer era in Cincinnati has come to an end.
The Bengals confirmed shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday (the NFL trade deadline) what had been reported all day: Carson Palmer had been traded to the Oakland Raiders.
"I'm very happy. It came at a time that was best for the organization," said Marvin Lewis at a news conference at Paul Brown Stadium after the trade was officially announced.
Lewis said Bengals owner Mike Brown is "much more patient than I am."
Brown's patience has paid off.
The Raiders will compensate the Bengals with their first-round pick in the 2012 draft and their second-round pick in the 2013 draft. The conditional pick could be a first round selection in 2013 if the Raiders win a playoff game, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.
"It gives us an opportunity to make our football team better," Lewis said. "Now we can open up a lot of other doors," referring to the contracts of other players.
Lewis said the Bengals were involved in "quite a bit of discussion" regarding Palmer. He wouldn't give specifics, but did say Raiders head coach Hue Jackson, a former Bengals assistant from 2004-06, had been inquiring about Palmer for some time.
When asked if he felt like a huge elephant had been cleared from the room, Lewis said, "yes."
The team's 4-2 record and the solid play of rookie quarterback Andy Dalton helped Brown change his stance and pull the trigger.
Brown released the following statement before the news conference: "Several factors made us believe that trading Carson to Oakland was the best move for the Bengals at this time. The principal development has been Andy Dalton, who has shown himself to be one of the best and most exciting young quarterbacks in the NFL. We have a good, young football team, and Andy can be the cornerstone of that team for a long time. We also find ourselves rather suddenly in position of being able to receive real value for Carson that can measurably improve our team – which is performing well and is showing real promise for this year and years to come. When this opportunity arose, we felt we could not let it pass, and needed to take a step forward with the football team if we could."
In a sport where trades rarely happen, this will go down as one of the biggest trade deadline deals in NFL history.
"Carson helped elevate the franchise here," Lewis said before the press conference. "He played at a very high level for us, and I wish him well with the Raiders. We obviously have a strong belief in the ability of Andy Dalton to continue playing well and to be the leader of our offense. He has been exceptionally effective for a rookie, and as good as he has been, we know he has tremendous potential to be even better."
John Clayton of ESPN said the Raiders had to re-structure Palmer's deal to get the team under the salary cap. Palmer was due to make $11.5 million this season, but since he missed several games, his contract, which runs through 2014, was prorated. It was reported Tuesday afternoon that Palmer will make $2.5 million this season after agreeing to a four-year, $43 million contract. Palmer will also wear number 3 with the Raiders, the same number he wore when he played at USC. The Raiders also tweeted a picture of Palmer at the team's facility Tuesday afternoon.
Jay Glazer of Fox Sports first reported the two teams were finalizing the deal while appearing on Dan Patrick's sports talk radio show Tuesday morning.
Palmer was in the Bay Area, getting a physical Tuesday morning. Once that was completed, the paperwork was finalized to the NFL.
Raiders linebacker Kamerion Wimbley said on Twitter that he spoke with Palmer at the team's facility before the trade was officially announced. "Just spoke with Carson at the facility before my workout. I'm excited he's here! Welcome back to Cali my dude."
Brown had said multiple times since Palmer requested the trade after last season that he would not "reward" the former number one overall pick in 2003 and "wished him well." Palmer met with Brown once again after the lockout ended, pleading his case for a fresh start. Palmer left Cincinnati and went back to California as a retired player. Another report surfaced that the Miami Dolphins had expressed interest in obtaining Palmer.
Brown reportedly demanded a number one pick for Palmer. He got his wish, proved his point and satisfied many Bengals fans in the process.
The former Heisman Trophy winner, who lives in California, preferred to join a team on the West Coast.
Former Raiders owner Al Davis, who died last week, made the phrase, "just win baby" famous. You can't help to think that Davis would have made this trade which immediately makes Oakland better. The Raiders are known for making big splashes and trading draft picks. The deal makes sense for both sides, but the Bengals are clearly the winner. Number one picks are rarely traded in the NFL... for a reason.
Palmer was Cincinnati's building block when the Bengals made him the first overall pick in 2003, Marvin Lewis' first season as coach. He led the Bengals to the playoffs in 2005 and 2009 - their only winning records in the last 20 years - and rebounded from severe knee and elbow injuries along the way.
Did the Raiders overpay for a quarterback on the downside of his career or did they land a former number pick with a lot to prove still? That remains to be seen. Former NFL quarterback Ken O'Brien coached Palmer at USC and has been working out with the former Trojan this season. Palmer is reportedly in good shape and throwing the ball with the zip he used to several years ago, according to several reports.
What's ironic is the Bengals and Raiders could be battling for a playoff berth later in the season. Cincinnati is off to a 4-2 start with rookie quarterback Andy Dalton. Oakland is also 4-2 and needed a quarterback after Jason Campbell broke his right collarbone on Sunday.
Palmer could play this Sunday when the Raiders take on the Kansas City Chiefs. Oakland's current quarterbacks are Kyle Boller and former Ohio State Buckeye Terrelle Pryor.
While Jackson was in Cincinnati the Bengals had one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. After Davis died last week, Jackson reportedly became the leader of the organization.
Assuming the Bengals and Raiders do not meet in the postseason, Palmer's first visit back to Paul Brown Stadium as a member of the Raiders will be next season when Oakland travels to Cincinnati. The date has yet to be determined. While the Bengals have had problems selling out home games the past two years, Palmer's return to Paul Brown Stadium should rival Bob Huggins' return to Cincinnati.
The Bengals now have additional draft picks that will help them build their team around its young nucleus. Pending any other moves, the Bengals have two first-round picks in the 2012 draft, the first time since 1998 when the team selected linebackers Takeo Spikes and Brian Simmons.
During an open locker room session at Paul Brown Stadium Tuesday morning, offensive guard Bobbie Williams said Palmer "had been detached" from the team.
Defensive end Frostee Rucker, who also played his college ball at USC, said the Palmer trade could have been a distraction if it happened during the offseason. Since it happened now, while the team is playing well with Dalton at the helm, it wasn't that big of a deal.
With Palmer officially gone, Cincinnati has parted ways with all of the players from the old regime and closed that chapter of the organization. Cincinnati traded Chad Ochocinco to the New England Patriots before the regular season for two draft picks and let Terrell Owens walk as a free agent folowing the 2010 season.
Regardless of what fans think of Mike Brown, the team has done well the past several drafts and has accumulated more draft picks to improve the roster with. Now, the only question is where do fans think Carson Palmer falls on the list of Cincinnati athletes?
The Associated Press contributed to this story.