With the recent news that Cedric Benson is planning on testing the free agent waters despite the lockout completely halting player and roster movement, there is still reason to believe that Benson could be carrying the ball and running over defensive backs for the Bengals during the next season.
A new situation was brought to light by Michael Fabiano: the Miami Dolphins could possibly release both Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown. Stop the presses right there. Would Miami really do that? We won't know for sure until the lockout ends.
The question that has to be asked now is how big of an impact would those two have on Benson's attempt to land a contract. Will Benson get that fat-ultra-mega-show me the money type contract or will he only be able to land a one or two-year contract if he has to compete with Sticky Ricky Williams and Brown?
Well let's break things down. Benson, Williams, and Brown have all had success in the past, but each of them has had their share of struggles on the field as well. Also something that we shouldn't forget is that none of them are getting any younger as they have either reached their prime or are quickly approaching it. All three of them are approaching the age of being considered old and "over-the-hill" for a running back in the NFL.
Alright, let's turn to the stats now, the part that every football guru and junkie pays the most attention to.
Benson finally had a breakout season in 2009 where he rushed for 1,251 yards on 301 attempts which amounted to a 4.2 average per carry. Over the course of the season he averaged 96.2 yards per game and scored six touchdowns. More highlights in the statistical department include 10 runs of 20 plus yards, one fumble, 57 runs that led to a first down, and a season high run of 42 yards. Let's not forget that he did all of this in 13 games and helped lead the Bengals to the playoffs.13 GAMES AND THE PLAYOFFS!!! What he did in not even a full season was quite impressive and the fact that the Bengals made the playoffs was even better..
This gave the Bengal faithful a glimmer of hope in a position that was a huge question mark in the post Rudi Johnson being good era. But unfortunately Benson did a complete 360 degree turn in the 2010 season where we witnessed a dip in production. He only ran for 1,111 yards on 321 attempts which equaled a 3.5 average. Also in the length of a full season he only scored one more touchdown in comparison to 2009. Another statistic that isn't a glitch in the system unfortunately was that Benson fumbled the ball seven times and only had two runs of 20 or more yards. The Bengals had a dismal season and so did Ced the Pred.
If and when we do see the free agency market become active, Benson will be faced with some tough competition. Some of the running backs that could possibly be on the market include: Joseph Addai, DeAngelo Williams, Darren Sproles, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Ahmad Bradshaw, along with the possible Williams and Brown. As it stands there is a high amount of running backs with gobs of talent that will be on the open market.
If both Williams and Brown do enter the unemployment line for running backs then that will add even more talent to the pool of available half backs. Both Brown and Williams have accumulate more superior seasons than Benson. Williams has rushed for 1,000 or more yards five times in his career and Brown has had one season of 1,000 yards or more. Another situation that will undoubtedly impact Benson and his attempt to land his ideal contract is the draft. There is going to be plenty of mid-to-late round talent ripe for the picking in the draft. A handful of teams looking for help in the running game may use the draft as their means of acquiring running backs that are both cheap and filled with potential talent.
And let's not forget about the devious Mike Brown. He will use Benson's decline in production in order to sign Benson to the type of contract he believes is suitable. With the type of season Benson had in 2010 he has minimal leverage and margin of error in contract negotiations.
Benson then might have little to no choice, but to return to The Jungle for at least another season. It is going to be difficult for the 28-year-old Benson to land his ideal package with any other team because of the level of talent on the market, so next season we might be blessed or burdened with Benson in the back field, depending on the type of season he has.