CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 01: Jerome Simpson #89 of the Cincinnati Bengals avoids the tackle of Cary Williams #29 of the Baltimore Ravens during their game at Paul Brown Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Ravens defeated the Bengals 24-16. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Earlier this morning we issued our free agency wish list, mostly comprised of Bengals players set for free agency when their contracts expire in early March.
We know that the free agency wish list from players on other teams will be anticipated, but in reality it's a mind-numbing adventure into nothingness.
Because there will be a period for teams to sign their own players while others franchise their best players. Even though contracts are expiring, we won't know who will be a free agent until the new league year begins in a couple of months.
In the meantime, it's time for the Do-Not Re-Sign Free Agency Wish List. And there's one on here that we're fairly certain will generate a debate.
Bengals running back Cedric Benson had a tremendous season in 2009, largely responsible for Cincinnati unexpectedly reaching the postseason that year. And during the postseason that year, he was one of a handful of players that actually showed up against the New York Jets, recording 169 yards rushing and a touchdown. Of the 13 games he played that year, he registered six 100-yard rushing games.
Of the 31 games he's played since, Benson has only registered six 100-yard rushing games. Some will point out that Benson has recorded three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Though at point the thousand-yard rushing mark was a means to categorize the best running backs (before the 16-game schedule that is), in today's game a running back only needs to average 62.5 yards rushing per game to reach that milestone. Whoopty-do.
More importantly in 2010 and 2011 (both of which were contract years), Benson has combined for a 3.7 yard/rush average.
Nate Livings And Mike McGlynn
Anytime the Cincinnati Bengals ran between the guards, from Nate Livings to Mike McGlynn, the team averaged 3.3 yard/rush. The average improved significantly when running backs bounced it outside. Obviously between the guards is tough sledding, due to the compressed nature of defensive formations.
Yet according to Pro Football Focus grades, Livings and McGlynn were rated very unfavorably, both within the league's worst-performing guards.
However as nice it would be to move on, that might not be practical. Save for Paul Alexander's favoritism for Livings, the Bengals have one guard under contract for next season -- Clint Boling.
This is the one that will surely be divisive, we know. But really. Is this team completely incapable of finding someone more reliable and more consistent that isn't part of a pending federal drug investigation? Is Jerome Simpson the only wide receiver available that can fail to record over 50 yards receiving all but four games?
It's been four years and the two words that still apply to Simpson today are athleticism and potential. We've seen the hops and the flips, sure. But we've also seen Simpson's team-worst 47.6 percent completion rate and his eight dropped passes, which ranked ninth in the NFL this year.
There's no doubt Simpson is exciting, and if he asks for scraps that offers little resistance against the salary cap, then it's prudent to see what his return offers Cincinnati's overall offense.
In reality it boils down to two things. Is Simpson dependable (will he be playing) and will he be reliable (catching the football when he's targeted)? If there's slight hesitation on any answer, then you might as well move on because I'm pretty sure there's players out there that can do what Simpson hasn't.