Goodell, Lewis optimistic to fans in face of change; Brown one of 4 owners in talks

Updated: 3:20 p.m.

Emphasizing a new look to his team during a conference call, head coach Marvin Lewis told a fan forum of Bengals season ticket holders Wednesday that during several discussions quarterback Carson Palmer told him he feels his time in Cincinnati is over and that he wants to retire.

Before that, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told the fans he's still hopeful the league's lockout is going to end in time for normal training camp and preseason schedules and that there is no drop-dead date yet that triggers the cancellation of games.

Goodell expressed cautioun about Monday's mediation session with the players, where Bengals president Mike Brown joins Pittsburgh's Art Rooney II, Carolina's Jerry Richardson, and the Giants' John Mara representing the owners. 

Goodell also outlined for fans what he feels are the major obstacles to getting a new collective bargaining agreement, reiterating they are economic issues stemming from the players not wanting to give up their current percentage of the revenues despite rising costs of new stadiums and player salaries in a changed economy.

Questions about Palmer and how his staff is responding to the lockout dominated Lewis' 32-minute call. He indicated that wide receiver A.J. Green got a playbook since he was drafted in a first round when the lockout was briefly lifted, but he would only say that not every rookie got one. He did say the ones that did get a playbook are allowed to do anything with it.

Lewis also shot down a rumor that ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, brother of Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, is teaching the West Coast offense to the Bengals quarterbacks.

Lewis reiterated that he believes Palmer, the starter in 99 of Lewis' 130 games as coach, won't be around to learn it. He did say if Palmer decides to return the club would have the financial wherewithal to pay both him as the starter and second-rounder Andy Dalton groomed to be his successor.

But he made it clear that's not what he expects when asked if the Bengals would turn down "an offer you can't refuse."

"Guys have opportunity to retire and walk away," Lewis said. "And right now that's the situation Carson is in at this point."

Later Lewis said, "He feels the best thing for him is to go and retire and be with his family. That's a decision any player can make. The good thing for us is the decision was made early on, in January and we've been able to plan accordingly and go forward accordingly. For that, we benefited."

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