HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 07: (L-R) Running back Cedric Benson #32 and quarterback Andy Dalton #14 celebrate after Benson scores on a one-yard touchdown run in the first quarter while taking on the Houston Texans in their 2012 AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Reliant Stadium on January 7, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
If we ran a poll asking our wonderful Cincy Jungle readers if they think that the Cincinnati Bengals should re-sign running back Cedric Benson, there's a feeling that the overwhelming response would look something like this: "I'd rather condemn my immortal soul in the fiery depths of hell for eternity". So as you can imagine, we're not going to bother adding a poll asking if the Bengals should bring Benson back.
The question is up for discussion because Benson is heading into free agency this year after signing a one-year contract last year. Though he registered three 1,000-yard rushing seasons (one of the over-hyped milestones in all of professional sports), Benson failed to record a four-yard per rush average in three of the four seasons he's been in Cincinnati. Additionally Benson has fumbled the football 12 times in the past two seasons, losing seven. During his first five seasons in the NFL, Benson only fumbled the football seven times.
In quotes obtained by Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Benson sounds like a man that's ready to move on:
"I don’t know what the future’s going to hold. You never know going into being a free agent, things like that," said Benson. "I don’t have any closed doors, so we’ll see what the future holds."
There are avenues that the Bengals could use to rebuild their running back roster. But in our honest opinion, obtaining a great running back should be secondary to rebuilding the offensive line. Along with acquiring new guards to replace Nate Livings and Mike McGlynn (please), guys that will certainly be here next season need to improve just as much.
According to Pro Football Focus, Andrew Whitworth scored a -7.8 run blocking score, second-worst behind Nate Livings, with Andre Smith scoring a -4.4 (third-worst on the line). Truth be told every offensive linemen in Cincinnati scored a negative rush blocking grade, except for about-to-be free agent guard Bobbie Williams, who scored a team-high 1.8.
Trent Richardson, Mike Bush, none of that really matters until Cincinnati rebuilds with an offensive line that can block.