Updated: 11 p.m.
The Bengals cut Jordan Palmer on Saturday and you can read a thousand things into it. But left tackle Andrew Whitworth says maybe there shouldn't be.
Also released were veteran defensive backs Tom Nelson and LeRoy Vann, rookie wide receiver Jamere Holland and rookie linebacker Stephen Franklin, and veteran cornerback Fred Bennett's contract was terminated.
One thing that can certainly be read into the Palmer cut is that the Bengals are leaning to keeping two quarterbacks instead of three, which opens up a spot on the roster. The first guess where it goes is on the offensive line, where they would keep 10 instead of nine with Reggie Stephens as the backup center.
Palmer, the younger brother of disgruntled quarterback Carson Palmer, backed up his brother for three seasons and became the No. 2 after last year's preseason. But he appeared in only one game this year, completing one of four passes for seven yards and an interception during the opener in Detroit.
Dan LeFevour, picked up as the No. 3 on last year's Cutdown Day, also didn't play in Thursday night's 24-13 victory quarterbacked by starter Andy Dalton and backup Bruce Gradkowski. If the Bengals don't keep three, they'll keep one on the practice squad, where LeFevour has practice squad eligibility but Jordan Palmer doesn't.
From the opening snap at Georgetown College 29 days ago, that seems to be the way it was scripted.
"Bruce has played in this offense and he's won some big games as we all know here," said Whitworth, alluding to Gradkowski's wins over the Bengals with the Buccaneers and Raiders. "He's a guy you can rely on for sure and he's played in that backup role. And you have a guy you drafted to play with what's going on with Carson (Palmer). You drafted Andy Dalton to be your quarterback and he's done nothing but show that he can handle that. I think they realized they had two guys that (fit) it. It's that simple."
But this has been the weirdest of the weird seasons and you wish it were that easy.
In an extremely awkward position after his brother threatened retirement if he wasn't traded following the last season, Jordan Palmer organized workouts for the offensive skill players during the lockout at his California high school. When the voluntary workouts shifted to the University of Cincinnati in June, he led classes in the new playbook using an overhead projector in the Bearcats team room.
While politely dismissing questions about his brother, Jordan Palmer remained upbeat even when it became clear the starting spot wasn't up for grabs. Even after Thursday's game he offered, "Keeping two would indicate numbers at a position. You want to play. You want to compete and preseason is the time for the non-starters to do that. But because of the situation, a young quarterback and two new guys, those are the cards that are dealt and I'll try to make the best of it."
And on Saturday he had no comment on his release.
On some level his departure would seem to indicate the club realizes Carson Palmer isn't coming back. But that won't stop the Bengals from making sure they have his $11.6 million salary in case he does come back. And if Carson has it in his mind to make a power play to try to force a trade, his brother's situation would also be an independent matter.
"He really did a great job this offseason keeping the skill players together working out and kind of learning the new schemes," Whitworth said.
Dalton was particularly thankful for how Jordan Palmer treated him. One of the first things Palmer did when he got to Cincinnati after the lockout last month was invite Dalton to dinner at the team hotel.
"Once I got drafted here, he set up some of the workouts and things like that, so my first introduction to the team was through him," Dalton said. "He's helped me out. He's been around for a while. I hate to see him go. It was great that he was around (during the lockout) and he was able to help me through that time and to get to know the guys. He definitely helped me out."
With 27 players still needing to go by next Saturday, Whitworth says it will be a scene played over and over.
"Everybody has a time when they're done with a team and the team is kind of moving on," Whitworth said. "I think he's moving on from us and they're moving on from him. He did a great job in the things he had to do here. You have a role and you go for it. ... There's a lot of guys out here kicking tails and busting butt every day that aren't going to make this team. That's the life of the NFL."
The bottom line is that the Bengals sound like they are going to keep two quarterbacks. Head coach Marvin Lewis indicated after practice that the new rule giving teams 46 active players on game day and does away with the 45 plus the third quarterback in case of emergency should make more teams keep just two quarterbacks.
"The advantage is you're keeping another position player that gives you more value throughout the season. You may have an injured spot and you're enabled to keep a guy who can fill that void," Lewis said. "The third QB research shows there's not much benefit. Since the rule has changed with the straight 46 you know you're going to benefit with the extra position.
"Now that the third QB doesn't become your 46th guy automatically, you'll see (fewer) teams keep a third QB. It could be an extra linebacker, extra defensive back, extra offensive skill guy who can help one of your guys who is more of a special-teamer than a guy who is not."
In the past, Lewis said the 46th player was wide receiver Jerome Simpson. But he had to be inactive most of the time because "it was hard to plan for Jerome because an injury would happen and it would be hard to game plan for that player. With the way the rule is constituted now you can count for an extra specialty player."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
»Apparently the initial report on tight end Bo Scaife's shoulder injury isn't good after he got hurt on Thursday night's fifth play. There is a fear it could be a season-ender, but Lewis said he's consulting with some more specialists and there is nothing definitive.
»Lewis said running back Cedric Benson, not at Saturday's walkthrough, has been excused to deal with his Monday trial concerning a 2010 incident in an Austin, Texas, bar. No one is getting to New York City any time soon to meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, but Benson may have received some good news via ProFootballTalk.com.
The site cited published reports that Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt and Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib won't be disciplined for incidents during the lockout. Benson is claiming extortion after an incident last month in Austin. On Saturday night the league had no word on Benson's status.
»Lewis said cornerback Adam Jones (neck) won't work this week. That means he remains a candidate to start the season on the PUP list and miss the first six games.
»Defensive tackle Pat Sims was running hard enough on the side Saturday that it appears he's close to coming back. Sims, who hasn't practiced yet this summer as he rehabs last year's knee injury, has said he'll return to practice this week so he can play in Thursday's preseason finale against the Colts. Sunday looks to be the day.
»Bengals linebacker Vincent Rey's neighborhood in Far Rockaway, N.Y., has been evacuated and his brother is safely with family in Harlem with Hurricane Irene bearing down on the Big Apple. Their home is four blocks from the beach, but Rey isn't worried. "My brother is safe, my parents are on vacation in Florida, so that's all that matters," he said.