Cincy Coach Doesn't Expect Carson Palmer to Return

By Sajid Farooq
|  Tuesday, Mar 1, 2011  |  Updated 2:00 PM PDT
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Patrick Willis Hoists the Madden Trophy

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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 25: Quarterback Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass under pressure from Jim Leonhard #36 of the New York Jets at New Meadowlands Stadium on November 25, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Jets defeated the Bengals 26-10. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

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What Chad Ochocinco tweets about where Carson Palmer will play next season doesn't really matter. Especially when the wide receiver/reality TV personality is not expected to be back in Cincinnati himself.

But when the coach of the Bengals thinks his star quarterback won't be back in town next season, there is reason to listen up.

Marvin Lewis spoke to the NFL Network about his disgruntled quarterback, Carson Palmer, who has demanded a trade and has been linked to the San Francisco 49ers.

Lewis said he is operating this off season under the premise that Palmer will not return to Cincinnati despite assurances from the Bengals owner that the quarterback will not be traded.

The news could be positive for San Francisco 49ers' fans, some of whom have taken an anything but Alex Smith stance on the team's cloudy quarterback future.

Palmer has been linked to San Francisco because his wife is from the Bay Area and he went to school at USC.

The quarterback has shown how serious he is by putting his Cincinnati home up for sale and threatening to retire if he does not get traded.

Several pundits have linked Palmer to the 49ers, including ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

But the 49ers cannot make a move until NFL owners and its players reach a new collective bargaining agreement, which is expected to expire Wednesday.

Without a new agreement, owners would most likely lockout the players, which would freeze any free agency or trades until a new deal is struck.

Perhaps knowing that a lockout could slow down the learning curve of any new quarterback, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has been publicly praising Alex Smith and has said he hopes the former No.1 pick can get a fresh start in San Francisco.

But as the always astute Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area points out, Smith's value to the 49ers is greatly diminished if he doesn't sign a contract before a lockout occurs.

The benefit of having Smith on board before teams are forced to give players the cold shoulder is that Smith could theoretically organize off season workouts with the 49ers' offensive players.

If Smith were to sign a contract after a new CBA is agreed upon, the 49ers would be free to sign or trade for any player.

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