What to make of the Dolphins’ reported interest in Carson Palmer

The Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero has stirred up quite the buzz this afternoon. The Miami Dolphins have suddenly emerged as the favorite to land Carson Palmer after Armando spoke of people inside the organization that have leaked the team’s interest in Palmer.

I’m always cautious to trust reports like this, this time of year, but I don’t doubt the Dolphins’ interest in Palmer one bit. The Dolphins are in desperate need of a franchise quarterback, or at the very least a reliable starter if they want to emerge from mediocrity next season. They could obviously look to the draft to address the need, but how often do rookies step in and take a below .500 team from the following year to the playoffs?

Realistically, if the Dolphins want to win now, pursuing a proven veteran would be the direction to take. Carson Palmer is the most proven of any of the veterans who are projected to become available. Sure, he’s shown some decline over the past few years, most notably tying a career high with 20 picks this season, but we’re still talking about a guy who threw for 26 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 yards in 2010.

With all that said, however, establishing that the Dolphins have interest in Palmer is the simple part. Things get very complicated from here. First off, this whole lockout mess has prohibited teams from dealing players. Meaning, even though the draft will still run as planned, the Dolphins won’t be able to use one of their draft selections to acquire a player in a trade until a new collective bargaining agreement is in place. Judging by how the talks seem to be progressing from the outside, I would be shocked if we had a new CBA before the draft.

Even if the players and owners are able to compromise, though, the Dolphins are currently void a second round pick. I would expect the Bengals to ask a first rounder for Palmer’s services, but with no second to work with, I have my doubts about whether or not the Dolphins would be inclined to wait until round three to make a selection.

But where the lockout could actually benefit the Dolphins is, the Bengals may be forced to start considering 2012 draft picks as compensation. If a new CBA isn’t agreed upon until after the draft as expected, and Palmer remains adamant that he will retire before he plays another down as a Bengal, Cincinnati will really have no choice but to either let him walk away or get what they can in next year’s draft for him.

I don’t know about you, but in an offseason where the entire running game needs rebuilt from the ground up, I would much rather prefer the Dolphins to deal a 2012 draft choice as opposed to one of their selections next month.

But the tricky thing with that scenario is, the Dolphins would likely have to risk not addressing the quarterback position at all this offseason with an upgrade over Chad Henne, by passing on a rookie prospect and holding out for the possibility or reeling in Palmer.

Is that a risk they should be willing to take? It all depends on how much they trust Chad Henne as their fall back option. Personally, I don’t think Henne will ever emerge as anything more than quality backup, but then again, with better coaching and a better running game in 2011, I would only expect him to improve significantly.