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Palmer was one of the NFL’s top passers in 2005, when they won the AFC North. Pittsburgh’s Kimo von Oelhoffen crashed into his left knee after he threw his first pass in a first-round playoff game. The Bengals lost, and Palmer needed reconstructive knee surgery.

He partially tore a ligament and tendon in his passing elbow during the 2008 season, but led the Bengals to another division title the following year with a run-based offense. The Bengals teamed receiver Terrell Owens with Chad Ochocinco last season, but finished 4-12.

Lewis played out his contract, saying he wanted to see if the organization was committed to doing things the right way. He agreed to stay even though Brown said there would be no significant changes in the front office. A week later, Palmer said he wanted out.