What should the Bengals offer DeDe Dorsey; a brief understanding of compensation with restricted free agents

In 2007, DeDe Dorsey finished the season with an 8.7 yards-per-rush average on 21 carries; his longest a 45-yard rush (lateral pass) against the St. Louis Rams. In that 19-10 victory during week 14 (December 9, 2007), Dorsey rushed for 81 of the team's 192 yards rushing. On special teams, he blocked a punt against Arizona and returned it for a touchdown; one of three Bengals ever to do that. There's qualities about Dorsey that we really like, specifically his speed and big-play threat.

On the other hand, there's things that we don't like about Dorsey; specifically his vulnerability to getting injured. Late in 2007, Dorsey had a bum ankle that placed him on Injured Reserve a day after Christmas. The following season (2008), he lasted only four games before suffering a hamstring injury that placed him on IR. The thing about Dorsey is that he could be what we had hoped for with Chris Perry; on the other hand, he could also be Chris Perry. Sadly, the sample size is way too small to make either judgment.

Since the team's running back spot is a very suspect position, especially if Benson doesn't re-sign, the Bengals need to assure their depth and tender Dorsey a one-year deal worth $1.545 million. What's with the exact number, you ask.

Well, DeDe Dorsey heads into the off-season as a Restricted Free Agent; which means the Bengals will have first crack at signing him. However, there's elements within RFA that allows the Bengals to manipulate scenarios just enough to acquire compensation. It's the same way we acquired Ben Utecht. This year, if the original team contract tenders a player $2.198 million, the compensation is a first round draft pick if a new team signs Dorsey and the original team doesn't match the offer. The compensation is lowered to a second-round pick if the contract tender is $1.545 million. If you contract tender a Restricted Free agent less than that, then the compensation is the original draft position.

Feel me?

My reasoning for offering a tender of $1.545 million to DeDe Dorsey is simple. The cost isn't unreasonable, keeps our depth for completely collapsing, and if another team wants Dorsey, the Bengals would receive a second-round compensation pick that they could use to draft another running back. If the Bengals offered a contract tender of less than that, then the Bengals would receive no compensation because Dorsey wasn't drafted into the NFL. Which would likely be a mistake simply because if the Bengals decided not to match, then they'd receive no compensation and be left with a shortage of backs.

On the other hand, we're not foolish enough to believe that another team will find Dorsey valuable enough to give up a second round draft pick when they could use that to draft their own. So if the Bengals contract tender something lower, and another team makes an offer that Dorsey signs, the Bengals lose him if they choose not to match the offer.

I also admit, I'm on the fence; convinced either way. Offer Dorsey a minimum tender, and if we lose him, we lose him. What's the likelihood that another team would go after him anyway? Of course, the dire of our depth at running back completely depends on Benson.

What do you guys think?

Note: A restricted free agent is a player not under contract, but only has three accrued seasons.

[EDITOR's NOTE: I goofed on one thing. The maximum contract tender is actually $2.792 million, and the compensation for that is a first-round pick AND a third round pick.]

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