Updated: 2:45 p.m.
MOBILE, Ala. - The lines have officially been drawn.
Politely. But firmly.
Carson Palmer wants out. The Bengals want their franchise quarterback to stay.
Shortly following Bengals president Mike Brown's pledge to bring a disenchanted Palmer back into the fold, agent David Dunn released a handwritten statement after getting off the phone with Palmer that said his client "strongly feels that a separation" is in order.
Dunn wouldn't elaborate on the statement with the Palmers expecting their third child any hour.
Bengals president Mike Brown confirmed Monday that Palmer met with him last week and requested a trade and that he turned him down.
"He's key to our plans. He's central to us. He was told that. We count on him going forward. He was told we were in no position to trade him," Brown said here at the Under Armour Senior Bowl. "It would not be something we would consider doing ... we are not looking for offers."
But that didn't stop Palmer from responding with a polite but powerful salvo Monday.
"They both expressed profound disappointment in how the team fared last season, and in how it has generally performed during Carson's tenure with the team," Dunn said of the meeting in his statement. "Because of the lack of success that Carson and the Bengals have experienced together, Carson strongly feels that a separation between him and the Bengals would be in the best interest of both parties."
Brown indicated he thinks that retirement is "impractical," while reiterating his admiration for Palmer. This is why this is such a tough moment for Brown. He has high regard for the face of his franchise. But reports have said Palmer considers retirement an option even though he just turned 31 and has four years left on a deal that gives hm more than $50 mllion in salary and bonus.
Complicating matters is that the Bengals have less than month to trade him before the CBA expires March 4.
Brown said Palmer was not specifc about his complaints while giving him the ultimate "he's good people" Brown compliment.
"He made no demands. He is the way he is. He didn't finger anyone or anything," Brown said." He's always been careful about that and this was no different. He's a great player and an equally fine person and in this discussion he comported himself the way he should and it's what you would expect of him."
And that's the way Palmer and Dunn made sure the statement read.
"Carson could not respect the Brown family any more than he does or be more appreciative of what the Browns have done for him and his wife Shaelyn and his family," Dunn said, five years after a $97 million exension made Palmer the NFL's highest-paid player.
Brown also said former Vikings head coach Brad Childress, thought to be a candidate for offensive coodinator, won't be coming to the Bengals. He didn't say if there were other candidates.
Brown said he doesn't know if Palmer is unhappy with the offense or the staff, topics that have been the magnet for massive public backlash.
"We'll reach out to him, try to understand what's in his craw," Brown said. "Maybe there are things that we can do that will appeal to him. We'll certainly try to do that. We'll see whether we can get it fit back together again in the future."
Brown said he "can't read (Palmer's) mind" about retirement and when asked if the Bengals would now take a quarterback high in the draft, he didn't rule it out.
"We'll talk about that as we get closer to the draft. We have over three months to figure that out," he said. "We aren't looking for offers. Carson knew where I stood when he left."
Palmer undercame heavy heat on and off field this past season. The announcement that he passed 20,000 passing yards during a late loss to Tampa Bay at Paul Brown Stadium on Oct. 10 was greeted with boos as two interceptions that appeared to be as much the fault of his two wide receivers, Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, sealed it. It was also a season fans left garbage on the lawn of his suburban Cincinnati home.
Brown has always thought highly of how Palmer has been gracious and classy in the glare of the spotlight.
"The life of a pro quarterback is not always easy," Brown said. "When you're down, the criticism will flare up. That's the nature of our business. He learned that when he was at USC. He's always conducted himself well with the media. He never complains. He never complains privately, let alone publicly, and I admire how he conducts himself."
In one of the lowest moments of the franchise Monday, Brown vowed the Bengals - with Palmer - would be back.
"We want him to re-up and we want him back in good spirit and my belief is in time he will come around," Brown said. "This was a deeply disappointing season for us. We've all suffered from it. It's time now for despondency and accusations. We'll work through it. I do believe it will rebound. We'll catch our breath and I think we'll give a good account of ourselves the next time out. I believe that to my core."
But Palmer says they'll have to do it without him.