Mike Brown and the 'contract' debate

I hear fans use this phrase all the time: "Player X signed a contract. Own up to it."

Now Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown is throwing that out there as the primary reason he won't trade embattled quarterback Carson Palmer.

"Carson signed a contract, he made a commitment. He gave us his word," Brown said Tuesday. "We relied on his word and his commitment. We expected him to perform here. If he is going to walk away from his commitment we aren’t going to reward him for doing it."

Here is my take: Using the "signed contract" excuse is hypocritical in the NFL.

The Bengals and other teams cut players all the time before contracts are up. Are the Bengals not living up to their commitments every time they release a player prematurely due to injury or lack of performance?

Most don't view it that way and neither should the Bengals. The truth is contracts are not guaranteed in the NFL. Teams don't honor them, and it's unfair for Brown to use that as a crutch when it's convenient for him.

There are better reasons for Cincinnati not to trade Palmer. If the trade value isn't there, for example, that would be a legitimate excuse. If they believe Palmer will eventually have a change of heart and help the team, even that would be acceptable.

But the "honor your contract" argument is very obsolete -- unless the Bengals plan to honor every contract they sign with players from here on out. Brown obviously has leverage in this standoff with his franchise quarterback, but that doesn't mean he's keeping Palmer for the right reasons.