"At what point did Carson quit? At some point last year he decided he didn't want to be here," Lewis told Yahoo! Sports on Thursday. "This didn't happen at the end of the season. There was a point earlier on when he said, 'This isn't the place for me.'"
So when Palmer demanded to be traded or released during the offseason and insisted he'd retire rather than stay with the Bengals, it only confirmed to Lewis that the team needed to move on after a season in which the quarterback threw a career-high 20 interceptions and his team finished 4-12.
The Bengals didn't immediately let on to their thinking, insisting they wouldn't trade Palmer despite his threat. They finally pulled the trigger on Oct. 18, dealing the 31-year-old to the Oakland Raiders for a 2012 first-round pick and a 2013 second-round choice. Cincinnati also traded another longtime star, wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, to the New England Patriots during the preseason.
"I was getting an opportunity a lot of coaches don't get to … and that is a chance to start over at the same place," Lewis says.