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Palmer headed back to Cincy for awkward reunion

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Palmer headed back to Cincy for awkward reunion

CINCINNATI (AP) Andy Dalton has never spoken to Carson Palmer, the quarterback he replaced last year. Coach Marvin Lewis has limited his interaction with the former franchise player to a few texts.

None of the Bengals has stayed in close contact with Palmer since they parted ways a little more than a year ago. And there's not a whole lot to say about their slightly awkward reunion Sunday.

The Raiders (3-7) are coming to Paul Brown Stadium with the quarterback who led the Bengals (5-5) to some of their best moments of the past 20 years, then decided he wanted out because he was worn out.

Palmer is looking forward to his first visit to the area since the Bengals finished 4-12 in the 2010 season, prompting him to demand a trade.

``I'm excited,'' he said during a 23-minute conference call with Cincinnati writers on Wednesday. ``One of my favorite stadiums to play in, great atmosphere, beautiful stadium. Obviously, with the past it adds a little bit on it. They need a win, we need a win. It's a big game for both sides.

``I expect it to be loud and extremely electric. I'm not exactly expecting a welcome back.''

For the Bengals, it's less about Palmer and more about the playoffs. They've played their best games of the season back-to-back, leaving them one game out in the wild card race. That makes it much easier to focus on something other than the notable visitor.

``We moved on past the Carson situation a while back,'' safety Chris Crocker said. ``It's really about who's next, and the Oakland Raiders are the next team up. I'm sure the Raiders are going to come in and here and be jacked and be excited to play.

``Really it's not about him this week.''

Not even a little?

``It's not just talk, it's really the truth,'' left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. ``Nobody has talked about it.''

The community doesn't seem all that interested in it, either. The Bengals hadn't sold out the game by midweek. The fans that do show up can be expected to boo the quarterback who brought hope to one of the NFL's worst franchises - three winning records in the last 21 years - before deciding he needed out.

``Just a culmination of things,'' Palmer said Wednesday. ``Some things that I had learned that ownership ... Just some things that built up over time and it was just time for a change.''

Asked to complete the sentence about ownership's plans, Palmer said, ``No, I'm not going to go into that.''

He told the media in Oakland on Wednesday that his former teammates understood.

``I think that anybody that's ever played for that ownership knows what I was doing and why I was doing it,'' Palmer said.

His standoff with owner Mike Brown ended when Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell broke his collarbone midway through last season and Oakland offered a first-round and a conditional second-round pick. Raiders head coach Hue Jackson - a former Bengals assistant who scouted Palmer in high school - strongly supported the move.

Jackson was fired after an 8-8 finish in Oakland. He came back to the Bengals as an assistant coach for special teams and defensive backs. He's trying not to get wrapped up in his reunion week.

``Honestly, it's really another football game,'' Jackson said after practice. ``For me, it is. It has to be. You can't get caught up in the emotional part of it because that's not what this is about.''

Dalton has managed to avoid the drama, too.

Knowing that Palmer had threatened to hold out, the Bengals took Dalton in the second round of the 2011 draft and installed him as the starter. When Dalton looked good at the start of the season, the Bengals became open to trading Palmer.

One advantage to how it worked out: Palmer's status wasn't a distraction to Dalton because he was never around.

``Everything's worked out,'' said Dalton, who led the Bengals to the playoffs with a 9-7 record and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. ``For me, it's perfect. I got to play all last year, got to start and didn't have to worry about all that stuff.''

Notes: CB Adam ``Pacman'' Jones (calf) and WR Andrew Hawkins (knee) didn't practice on Wednesday. Hawkins missed the win over Kansas City on Sunday with his injury, sustained during practice. ... C Jeff Faine was limited in practice by a hamstring injury. S Reggie Nelson (hamstring) and CB Terence Newman (concussion) practiced fully.

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AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow in Oakland, Calif., contributed to this report.

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These hidden factors could make Brandon Scherff less interested in an extension with the Redskins

These hidden factors could make Brandon Scherff less interested in an extension with the Redskins

In Brandon Scherff, the Redskins have a 27-year-old guard who has delivered on his first-round status, a lineman who has become one of the best in the league at his position and should have many more years of production and defender-mauling left.

Therefore, it's in the Redskins' best interest to extend Scherff this offseason, and the veteran confirmed on Monday there have been talks about getting that done

But during a discussion on the Redskins Talk podcast, J.I. Halsell, a salary cap expert and former agent, laid out something that could force those negotiations to stall.

"There are some things you have to take into consideration because 2020 is the final year of the collective bargaining agreement, so there are some things you have to work around when structuring the deal," Halsell said.

Not only is that deadline approaching, but another one is, too. In 2021 and 2022, the NFL's TV deals with Monday Night Football, FOX, CBS and NBC expire as well.

So, there's a very real possibility the league's salary cap could look much, much different in a few seasons. And that, according to Halsell, may make Scherff much less willing to accept an extension now.

"If you're Brandon Scherff, in 2021, with a new collective bargaining agreement, the salary cap might be $250 million or something crazy like that, with all the new revenue coming into the league," he explained. "And so why would I take a deal today and preclude myself of taking advantage of a very lucrative and larger revenue pie?"

Essentially, it comes down to whether Scherff wants to take a present risk that could pay off down the line (kind of like how Kirk Cousins did a few years back with the Burgundy and Gold). He could probably lock something in over the next few months — Halsell's projection was an agreement for five years, including $45 million guaranteed and a $14.5 million average per year — or step away from talks now and try to cash in later.

Haslell told Redskins Talk he'd probably advise the lineman to take the second route.

"You would say, 'Look, you're a former first-round pick. You've made a decent amount of money in your career thus far,'" he said. "You have the financial wherewithal to not take the bird in hand today that may not be as lucrative as what is out there in 2021. So, bet on yourself and play out the last year of your rookie deal, force them to tag you in 2020 and then see what this new NFL salary cap world looks like in 2021."

Now, who knows truly how much these factors will play into Scherff's back-and-forth with the 'Skins. Nevertheless, you can see why the Pro Bowler's next contract may not be as much of a no-brainer as previously thought.

"If the kid is willing to bet on himself," Haslell said, "then it could be very lucrative on the back end."

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Seven reasons you need to root for the Blues in the Stanley Cup Final

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Seven reasons you need to root for the Blues in the Stanley Cup Final

The St. Louis Blues defeated the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night to advance to the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final. The champions of the Western Conference will take on the Boston Bruins, the champions of the Eastern Conference, having swept the Carolina Hurricanes in four games.

With the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins squaring off in a rematch of the 1970 Stanley Cup Final, we've dug up the seven reasons why Capitals fans, and -- well -- all NHL fans should be rooting for the Blues to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.

1: The Blues are like the Capitals of the West

A lot of fans think that the San Jose Sharks hold that title, but the Blues present an even stronger case.

The Blues Stanley Cup drought is currently at 51 seasons. And although they made the Stanley Cup Final three consecutive seasons from 1968-1970, they have yet to win a game in the Stanley Cup Final.

That should sound familiar to Caps fans. Before they won it all in 2018, Washington's Cup drought was 42 years, and when they made the Cup Final in 1998 they were swept by the dominant Detroit Red Wings.

The similarities don't stop there. Each team has a Russian sniper, a crop of promising rookies on offense and defense, and acquired depth pieces in free agency to build a consistent contender.

In the Blues case before this season, they couldn't make it past the Conference Finals, similar to how the Caps couldn't make it out of the second round.

Call it coincidence or fate, but the Blues are looking eerily similar to the Caps that won the Stanley Cup last year.

2: No More Boston Championships

The New England Patriots just won the Super Bowl. The Red Sox just won another World Series. The city of Boston has celebrated six major professional championships since 2010 and 12 since 2000, with each parade more frustrating to watch than the last.

Does Boston really need another championship after a drought since February?

3: Brad Marchand is the worst

A lot of people will complain about Tom Wilson's play. But Brad Marchand is the king of the subtle and overtly dirty play, especially in the playoffs where the rules relax.

In last year's playoffs, Marchand was told by the league to stop licking players after he brushed his tongue across Leo Komarov's face.

This postseason, he's punched players in the back of the head after a play's been blown dead.

He also baited Justin Williams into penalty minutes when he high-sticked him across the face. No penalty was given to Marchand on the play.

Marchand's put up 18 points through three rounds in addition to his antics.

4: TJ Oshie's old stomping grounds

The Caps acquired Oshie from the Blues in 2015 in exchange for Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley and Washington's third-round pick in 2016, and he's now a mainstay in the Caps top six. 

Oshie played over 400 games for the Blues, recording over 300 points for the organization that drafted him. Not only did he put up stellar numbers, but he was an alternate captain for the Blues and was beloved by fans in the area.

Who better to root for than for Oshbabe's old team?

5: Vladimir Tarasenko is tearing it up

If you've got Alex Ovechkin's endorsement as a game-changer, that's a good place to start.

Ovechkin took note of Tarasenko's skill in a 2014 game the Blues played against the Rangers and told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch "He just make great jump in his career and he’s carrying the team right now.”

In these playoffs, the Russian sniper has eight goals and five assists, including points in every game of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks.


6: Pam and Jim are facing off in an Office matchup

Actor John Krasinski, who played Jim Halpert in The Office,  is a Bruins fan. 

Jenna Fischer, who played Pam Beesly, Jim's love interest, is a Blues fan.

We have a house divided.

We tend to lean to Team Pam because if you take a closer look, Jim was a pretty awful colleague and despite his charm and boyish looks, he was kinda a bad person.

7: Washington helped St. Louis ascend the standings

On Jan. 2 the Blues were last in the league and posted a 15-18-4 record with 34 points.

But their fortunes started to turn on Jan. 3, when they faced the Caps at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. They beat the Caps 5-2, and turned their season around from that game going forward, including an 11 game winning streak.

So really, St. Louis has Washington to thank for transforming their season from one marred by losses to one where they made the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970.

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