Just My Opinion: Bengals Need to Throw Money at Benson

As I wrote earlier, the news that Tampa Bay has signed Derrick Ward means that the options for the Cincinnati Bengals in free agency are closing down rapidly. They need to check off some needs before the draft, otherwise they will be faced with too many holes and not enough picks to fill them.

Going into free agency, I had four players on top of my “re-sign” list: Shayne Graham, Chris Crocker, Cedric Benson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. So far, the Bengals have retained Graham and Crocker, and lost Housh. OK, fine: they drafted two wide receivers in the second and third rounds last year, and one of them, Andre Caldwell, looks well-suited to replace T.J. Critics will point to injury problems Caldwell had last year, but T.J. had injury problems early, too. An opening day lineup of Chad Johnson, Caldwell, and Chris Henry doesn’t strike me as the worst in the NFL, y’know?

That isn’t to say I wouldn’t like Laveranues Coles. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Jets, I’m familiar with Coles, and I think he would be a great addition to the team. He’s had a hell of a career catching lots of balls from crappy QBs and I think it would be fun to see what he could do with Carson Palmer slinging the rock at him. (After all, this is the guy who said that the JUGS machine threw harder than Brett Favre.) But in the final analysis, the Bengals have options at wide receiver. At running back, they have Chris Perry.

Need I say more?

Pay Benson. Yes, it’s a risk. But he has talent — he wasn’t a first-round pick for nothing — and never really got a fair shake in Chicago. He’s kept his nose clean since the “boating” incident, which appears to have been bogus anyhow. And he played hard last season in Cincy. What are we talking about here? Derrick Ward got $17 million over four years. How about $15 million over three for Benson? Heck, be magnanimous and give him $20 million over four. You still have change left versus the T.J. offer.

Showing Cedric the money means the Bengals can spend the first three rounds of the April draft addressing the offensive line and the defensive front seven. Otherwise, they will be pushed into a running back in the first couple rounds. All their tries at that in recent years — Perry and Kenny Irons — have ended in disaster.

Roll the dice. Pay Benson.

Just my opinion.

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  • http://www.whodeyfans.com WhoDeyFans

    Could not agree more. I would hate to overpay but this is the biggest thing the Bengals can do in free agency now.

    That way, the draft can be left for the lines on both sides of the ball.

  • G-Money

    I have to respectfully disagree. I think we should have realized that TJ was a lost cause and should have went hard after Brown (the Center from the Ravens). Now that the market is becoming sparse, don’t go blow your wad on Benson. Yes, bring him back for a 3 year $12 mil, or 4 year $16 mil, but don’t pay more than Ward got. Plus, yes we have had bad RB drafts (but the Bengals always suck in the draft)… historically though, NFL-wide, RB is the safest pick in the draft who can usually play right away. So I say, try to get Coles (personally I think he is better than TJ anyways, and we could get him for $2 mil less per year) and get a Center. Matt Birk, Jake Grove, there are a couple out there. Now what do we do at #6 (after the top 2 tackles are already gone)? That is what is scarring me. Please don’t draft Crabtree, or reach for a tackle… I don’t believe anyone who will be left over is worth that pick, so if at all possible, trade down… but if not, take the best available (who is not damaged goods ala Crabtree).

  • http://stripehype.com/ David

    Brown was on my wish list, but before we knock the Bengals for not going after him, remember he gave the Ravens a chance to match the Rams’ offer and Ozzie Newsome said buh-bye. So Mike Brown has good company in declining to enter a bidding war for Brown. Birk I think is done and is also going to give Minny the chance to match any offers, and Grove was pretty much a fin at last report.

    As I mentioned, I like Coles and if they can get, great. But I see RB as the bigger hole and if the Bengals overpay a bit, well, it isn’t like they don’t have the cap space.

    I’m right with ya on Crabtree and not reaching at six. Thanks for the comments, guys!

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