So far, the only way Carson Palmer has been able to escape his striped helmet is by retiring. But will he be back? (David Drapkin/GETTY IMAGES)

When the team made it clear they would not “reward” Palmer for walking away from his commitment, the 31-year-old veteran decided he’d rather retire than stick it out until his contract ends in 2014. It was an abrupt end for a quarterback who still appeared to have something left, and an eventual return to the field continues to seem like a reasonable possibility.

As it turns out, the two-time Pro Bowl selection may have tried to work things out with his employer earlier this summer with no result.

ESPN’s Bob Holtzman reported Thursday at the disgruntled quarterback met with Bengals owner Mike Brown in late July, just before the start of training camp. Last week the team contacted Palmer again, just before the Bengals cut his brother, backup quarterback Jordan Palmer.

Now speculation is swirling that Palmer could show up at Cincinnati’s team facility, forcing the Bengals hand.

You see, as Michael Scott could tell you, simply announcing you’re “retired” (or “bankrupt”) doesn’t actually make it so. Palmer has yet to file retirement papers, meaning if he did decide to show up, the team would be required to pay him the $11.5 million he’s scheduled to make this year — or appease Palmer’s request by trading him.

The latter seems far less likely since the team is well under the salary cap at present and given the Bengals’ owners hard stance from the start. After announcing Palmer’s had indeed retired in July, Brown didn’t mince his words:

“I’m not expecting him to be back. Carson signed a contract, he made a commitment. He gave us his word. We relied on his word and his commitment. We expected him to perform here. If he is going to walk away from his commitment we aren’t going to reward him for doing it.”

In the meantime, the Bengals have turned the keys of their offense over to rookie Andy Dalton, who looked sharp in his final two preseason outings. And even if Palmer were to return, new Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said the incumbent quarterback would have to prove his understanding of a new system in practice in order to win his job back.”