Bengals Reel in Cedric Benson


Breaking. Two years, $7 million are the only details so far.

Who-freakin’-day! Good job, Cincinnati.

More as it develops.

Obviously, I am thrilled by the news. I’ve been banging the drum for Benson since the end of the season, even going so far as to argue that the Bengals should have franchised him. Fortunately, they didn’t need to, as Benson drew little interest on the market. So again, props to the Bengals’ front office for correctly assessing Benson’s value (low) and getting him back at what appears to be a bargain price.

The signing doesn’t take the Bengals out of the running for a back in the draft, since behind Cedric there’s only Chris “Mr. Glass” Perry and James Johnson, an undrafted college free agent the Bengals signed last year. But it does push RB down the list of needs. Without Benson, Cincinnati almost certainly would have spent one of its top three picks on a running back. Now, they can skip it until later.

Note I said “can” skip it until later. Given that they have virtually no money invested in the position even with the Benson deal, it’s not inconceivable that they could address it as high as the first round. But I have to think that both “Beanie” Wells and Knowshon Moreno both just got a lot less likely at six — and for that most Bengals fans will be breathing a sign of relief.

Benson played well for Cincy last season, putting up more than 900 combined yards in 10 games, a remarkable achievement given the team’s poor excuse for an offensive line. With Benson in the fold, attention must be turned to that line, particularly the center position. A veteran center would give the Bengals further draft-day options. Without one, they may be forced to grab a center as high as the second round.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis today on Benson:

"“Cedric was recognized as an elite talent coming out of college. His years in Chicago weren’t what he hoped for, but he was able to give us a lift on the field and be a great presence in the locker room. He earned everyone’s respect, and we’re excited to let him continue to grow in our system.”"

Left guard Andrew Whitworth:

"“He came in here with great character, very humble, very hungry. We weren’t sure what we were getting, but the guy’s been nothing but great. He works hard. He studies hard."

Right guard Bobbie Williams on Benson’s concussion-inducing hit on Troy Polamalu:

"“Any back that can lay a hit like that on a Pro Bowl safety, I want to block for. He’s a tough, physical guy that can read our blocks.”"

Over at PFW Mike Wilkening weighs in:

"This is a deal that makes sense for both sides. Benson was unlikely to be a starter for many other clubs, and the Bengals have grown to like him and respect him during his time in Cincinnati. He was one of the Bengals’ steadiest players, and he ran with power, a must for a back of his size."

Like me, Wilkening sees the Bengals complementing Benson with a speed back in the draft. If they do – and I think they will — Bengals fans can finally wave buh-bye to Chris Perry.