NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was at Bengals camp last weekend and, obviously, the topic of Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers came up. Truth be told the topic didn't come up until Goodell was more than 20 minutes into his press conference – what can I say, it wasn't the hottest topic in terms of the Bengals – but the commissioner was upfront about why he got involved in the situation a couple of weeks ago after Green Bay lobbied tampering charges against NFC North rival Minnesota, charges that Goodell later dismissed.
"There are rights here that have to be respected," said Goodell at the time. "You have, obviously, the rights of the Green Bay Packers; they hold the rights to Brett Favre. That has to be respected. At the same time Brett Favre has rights. If you'd like to play football again, I think you should have that right to do that. But you have to balance those two and then you have 31 other clubs that have an interest or rights here.
"You have to balance all these issues. I'm not trying to interject myself. I was interjected into it because there was a tampering charge initially. I'm not looking for things to interject myself to. It's an issue that needs to be addressed because of the competing interests. You want to make sure it's done properly and within our rules. This is an issue that's ultimately has to be decided between Brett and the Packers.
Whether or not Goodell's interjection mattered, the Packers traded Favre to the New York Jets late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning.
The Bengals will see Favre and the Jets on Oct. 12 at the Meadowlands. Don't discount the possibility that the Bengals will have some inside information heading into that game.
The Jets have been undergoing a QB controversy/dilemma/situation/whatever you want to call it since drafting Kellen Clemens in the second round of the 2006 draft. Chad Pennington is the long-time starter with the upstart Clemens getting his first best shot last season. Clemens started eight times in his 10 appearances, completing 52 percent of his passes for 1,529 yards, five touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a club that finished 4-12 one season after earning a playoff berth.
Pennington would seem to be the odd man out in this situation. He is signed with the Jets through the 2011 season and is due a base salary of $6 million this season, according to NFL Players Association documents, with salaries totaling $15.5 million the following three seasons. The Jets have to figure out if they are going to release Pennington outright or trade him but if he is to be released the Bengals could make a play for him.
Convincing Pennington that this is the place for him would be a challenge – there is no doubt Pennington wants to go somewhere he can compete for a starting position and that's something that makes a spot like Chicago, Minnesota or even St. Louis more attractive but if the Bengals can put together a package for Pennington he would be one hell of an upgrade for them as a backup to Carson Palmer.
Right now the Bengals have Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jeff Rowe and Jordan Palmer as Carson Palmer's backups. Fitzpatrick is the only one of the three with any NFL game experience and the last time he attempted a pass in an NFL game was in 2005 when he appeared in four games with three starts for St. Louis.
The Bengals have been lucky that Palmer has been able to start 32 straight games since suffering that devastating knee injury against Pittsburgh in the 2005 season AFC wild card game but it is unreasonable to believe that he will play in every game again. At the very least it would be irresponsible to not look into the possibility of bringing Pennington to Cincinnati.
Whether that happens or not is another story.