Long have I and Stripe Hype been advocating the re-signing of RB Cedric Benson. But with his arrest happening within a weeks time of when most estimate Free Agency will begin, it becomes a little cloudier when predicting where Benson plays.
We touched about it lightly in the yesterdays article describing the “can of worms” this has opened for free agency, but this “can” needs it’s own article. So many possibilities can happen, and from each one of those so many more possibilities branch out from those. The goal of this article is to help highlight some of the more likely.
The two biggest things that steer these chain of events are the two most obvious. Do the Bengals sign Benson? And is there a suspension waiting for Benson? It may depend on which happens first, with Benson being the “repeat offender” he is, the NFL may rule on punishment rather quickly and may have it announced right away (alerting any team that plans on signing him of how many games to expect him for). But teams interested in him may not get the luxury when going to sign him, they may have to look at Benson expecting the worst (multiple game suspension) and hoping for the best (no NFL punishment).
The Bengals really are in need of a Veteran presence in their skill positions. It’s OK to have young talent and potential, but without veteran leadership on the field to help guide them, that’s all you have on the field; potential. If Cedric can or can’t be the man, the Bengals must find a veteran to fill the void at Running Back.
Many names have been tossed around early on in the off season. But not many names have really “stuck” when talking about FA Running Backs for the Bengals. Obviously many are begging for Reggie Bush, but fans have to remember the strategy of the depth chart. There are few cases anymore where one back is truly a #1 and not splitting carries. In most (successful) cases when having running backs split carries the offense subscribes to the “smash and dash” philosophy, where you have polar opposites in your back field. One being a bruising power back and the other a quick (sometimes smaller) track star. And with the Bengals looking to add a “power” dimension to their West Coast, adding another “Dash” to the equation when already having Scott under contract isn’t a smart idea. So that shortens the list of possible Bengals backs to veteran, Power Backs.
The names that could fit the Bengals scheme (and price range) include.
Tim Hightower, Arizona. The young Running Back has quite a few years ahead of him, and with those years quite a few carries. He’s been over in AZ slowly making a name for himself splitting time with Beanie Wells. (and with Wells Injury history he saw some serious time) Hightower also has the potential to catch a football making him a valuable option to those looking for a WCO RB. What makes this young back appear to be on the way out is the addition of 2nd round draft pick Ryan Williams and Wells still under contract make Hightower look expendable.
Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, Tampa Bay. The banged up Veteran may just have a little tread of the tires still. He’s had a great year in 2009 showing that he still has something. If given a chance for a “fresh start” the veteran back may find new life in a new city. It’s looking like quite the possibility that the Cadillac is leaving Tampa Bay. With Blount coming into his own and the drafting of Allen Bradford, it’s hard to argue they’ll keep Williams.
Marion Barber, Dallas. Barber isn’t a Free Agent; yet. But with the addition of a young Demarco Murray it’s looking more and more like Barber is on his way out. Dallas was rumored to be attempting to be talking to him about taking a pay cut, but have never attempted. (In Fact Landry Hat seems sure of him parting ways) Barber like Williams is a veteran that may have worn out his welcome with his old team. But if given a shot with a new team a fresh start might be all that he needs. Barber was a Pro-Bowler in ’07, and with a new city rejuvenating him, it could be a possibility he returns to form.
There’s quite a few more names floating around. Michael Bush of Oakland and Ronnie Brown of Miami to name a few. But if I mention every FA we’ll be here all day. Outside of the 3 I wrote about (and the 2 I just mentioned) there aren’t many other likely candidates. In my book, if the Bengals are looking for long haul, Hightower isn’t a bad option. He’s a younger back who can be your guy for the next 5 years, and would be great paired with Bernard Scott.
But if the Bengals feel Benson wont be in too much trouble. (or they feel he’s at a discount price because of it) I see the Bengals still having Benson as their number one choice as a FA RB.