The Ottawa Renegades are attempting to bring Jesse Palmer to the Canadian Football League as soon as this season.
Palmer, 26, who grew up playing football in Ottawa before attending the University of Florida, was cut last weekend by the National Football League's New York Giants.
Though his CFL rights are owned by the Montreal Alouettes, they have granted Ottawa permission to pursue a deal, pending a trade to be worked out.
"We've had discussions with [Palmer's]group," Renegades president Lonie Glieberman said. "That's basically where it's at. We're just talking.
"We have a strong level of interest and obviously, if we're talking, I assume they do, too."
Getting Palmer could be a boon for Ottawa, but it might also cost a bundle. Besides whatever they trade to Montreal for his rights, a source said Palmer is seeking a three-year deal worth $2-million, which would make him the top-paid player in the CFL.
Montreal general manager Jim Popp said he granted permission to another team to speak with Palmer. The club is believed to be the Toronto Argonauts, although their interest may not be as strong as Ottawa's.
While Palmer is unproven in four NFL seasons as a backup, he gained considerable fame on the ABC show The Bachelor. His celebrity could be a windfall for Ottawa and the CFL, which is striving to reach a younger demographic.
From Palmer's perspective, the time may be right to come home. He has thrown only 120 passes during sparse opportunities in the NFL and is at a juncture of his career where playing time is usually a priority.
"We're looking at a number of scenarios in the NFL and the Canadian league and [Ottawa]is just one," said Palmer's agent, Peter Schaffer. "[In Ottawa] this is a player who can bring a special something to an entire franchise. That has compelling interest, but it's not the only scenario we're looking at. There are others that have allure for Jesse."
With seven weeks remaining in the season, Ottawa is 5-6, tied with Montreal for second place in the East Division. Starting quarterback Kerry Joseph has played poorly in Ottawa's three-game losing string, but Palmer isn't viewed as a saviour for this season.
With Joseph entering the option year of a contract that affords him the potential to earn more than $300,000 next season, next year is a different story.
"Kerry Joseph has been the starting quarterback of this team for three years, he plays his butt off, is respected by his teammates and the community," Glieberman said. "But Jesse Palmer represents the only time the Ottawa Renegades would have a chance to have a local person playing quarterback. So it's an opportunity we can't ignore."
Though few would suggest Palmer and Ottawa are not a good match, the timing of his potential arrival could be questioned. Until a month ago, the Renegades were the feel-good story of the year, sitting in first place in their division.
Now, with the focus on Palmer's potential arrival, it's fair to wonder what effect that might have on the psyche of Joseph and teammates.
"Timing is everything," Glieberman said. "If Jesse Palmer was still in the NFL, we wouldn't be having these discussions. The problem is: do we say. 'Let's just postpone all of this?' Sports is about making decisions when you have to make them. There is a risk, but we also have a quarterback who is going into his option year and can pursue the NFL."