Tank Johnson calls Carson Palmer's threat to retire "definitely serious," and he agrees with teammate Cedric Benson that if the quarterback isn't willing to give his all, the Cincinnati Bengals have no use for him.
And that, Johnson says, hardly is the only chemistry issue for the team. The other problem: reality TV stars/wide receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. The Bengals' veteran defensive tackle told Sirius XM NFL Radio that their presence in training camp last year had a negative impact.
"When we got Chad and T.O. coming off their TV circuit right into our training camp, I mean, that just put a big cloud over a bunch of humble guys," Johnson said Thursday night. "And I'm not saying anything to take away from Chad and T.O.'s offseason adventures, because, hey, if they want you on TV, be on TV, but it just really clouded a bunch of humble guys."
Palmer's situation has been another dark cloud, and Benson, a Bengals running back who's scheduled to become a free agent when the NFL lockout is over, earlier this month charged that the team should cut ties with the quarterback and that keeping him would be "detrimental to the team."
"If he's there and not happy," Benson said, "he's not going to give us his best."
Said Johnson: "In terms of what (Benson) said about Carson, I mean, he's absolutely right. There's no way that you can bring that kind of energy into the locker room. I mean, if a guy doesn't want to be there, let him go."
Palmer, who last season passed for 3,970 yards and 26 touchdowns but also matched a career high with 20 interceptions, announced shortly after the conclusion of the Bengals' 4-12 season that he wanted out or he would retire. Bengals owner Mike Brown said at the NFL Spring Meeting earlier this week that "we don't plan to trade Carson."
"He's important to us. He's a very fine player, and we do want him to come back," Brown said. "If he chooses not to, he'd retire. And we would go with Andy Dalton, the younger player we drafted, who's a good prospect. Ideally, we'd have both of them. That'd be the best way to go forward. If we don't have Carson, we'll go with Andy."
Johnson said he wouldn't be surprised in Palmer is through.
"I don't think Carson's a guy who likes to come out in the media and put himself kind of on the stage if he's not serious," Johnson said. "I've known Carson all the way since we played in the Pac-10 together" -- Palmer at USC, Johnson at Washington -- "and I haven't known him to be much of a jokester, so I'm thinking he's pretty serious."