Hobson's Choice: QB audible

Why are we so HOT over getting a front line backup quarterback? We say that we want a veteran but didn't we sign Doug Johnson? And we have Craig Krenzel. I just can't see wasting time and money in the free agent market when we have two guys that can do the job. I would think that they would get all the reps in the camps. I am afraid that we will lose out on free agents like Sam Adams while we are shopping for a one-year backup quarterback. Unless, we think Carson is much more injured than we are letting out. Your thoughts?
**--Darrell, Eaton, OH

DARRELL:** It's a good question and the question of the day. A lot of fans think the Bengals have enough quarterbacks right now. But if Palmer isn't back yet, a lot of the same fans would feel a lot better if they were 0-1 and going to Tampa with Griese or Ramsey at the helm.

That looks to be the sole reason why they've switched gears lately in the backup quarterback hunt. They're trying to get back to the playoffs and no one knows better than Bengaldom how a slow start kills a NFL season.

That said, it doesn't mean that Palmer has been declared clinically dead, either. It sounds like Marvin Lewis has been telling agents the same thing he's been telling the media. He thinks Palmer is going to be back for the opener, but they have to plan like he isn't and there are no sure things with a knee.

In the last couple of days, more accomplished quarterbacks have dropped into the market and now there are more bodies than chairs. The Bengals seem to be thinking that one of these guys is going to be standing when the music stops and why not? Maybe you get a quarterback who has won some games in the league at a decent price for a year who needs a place to go.

No knock on Johnson or Krenzel, but they simply don't have near the game experience of some of these other guys. Plus, there was never a doubt the Bengals were going to go after a fourth quarterback. Lewis and Johnson even said that when Johnson signed.

And, they may be thinking if it doesn't work out in the next week or so, they can go to the next tier anyway.

Do they lose a D-tackle in the process? Probably not. If they lose a D-Tackle, it's going to be because of price, not because they went after the quarterback first. You get the sense that Lewis and Adams would like a reunion, but you also get the sense the Bengals want to do it at the right price.

The agent for the two best run stuffers left (Adams and Grady Jackson), is a very adept guy well aware of the market. No doubt Angelo Wright is looking at $3 million per year (what he got for Ted Washington in Cleveland) and the Bengals are going to have a decision.

They have to decide if Adams would be enough of a game-changer to warrant the number.

Some are concerned that Adams or Jackson would give you three DTs 30 or older by the end of the season. Others are concerned at Adams' play last season.

(As a personal aside, I'd like to see them match the LeCharles Bentley signing in Cleveland with a big, seasoned body in the middle on early downs. The best way to win without Palmer is to get better on defense no matter what QB is out there. Of course, I also want to sign Willie Anderson, Levi Jones, and Eric Steinbach. Not to mention Bobbie Williams. I don't think I'd trade Sam for a Levi extension even if it won't be for awhile. And every guy from Massachusetts loves a guy named Sam Adams.)

What we all need is a crystal ball to decide the Palmer question. But even Dan Snyder can't afford one of those.

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