Teams have started to place the franchise tags on certain players and even though the Bengals haven't, the Raiders have. The Raiders used their franchise tag to lock up safety Tyvon Branch today, which means that running back Michael Bush, who was thought to be a candidate for the franchise tag, will more than likely head to free agency.
There have been Bush-to-Cincinnati rumors since the 2011 season came to an end and they all make sense considering the Bengals are unlikely to re-sign Cedric Benson for the 2012 season. The Bengals need an upgrade in the running game and after proving, once again, that he can be a starter in the NFL by backing up Darren McFadden, he's an obvious candidate.
I can see Bush coming to the Cincinnati. The Bengals want to improve over last year's starter, Cedric Benson. They have the salary-cap room to lure the free agents that they want. They offer Bush a chance to play near his hometown of Louisville. And they have new assistant Hue Jackson, who was Bush's head coach last season in Oakland.
If the Bengals do go after Bush, and I think they will, I don't think that they will neglect to add a running back in the draft. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has already hinted that the Bengals will use more than one running back in the upcoming season and with Bush, Bernard Scott and another talented back from the first couple rounds of the 2012 draft, they could implement a similar system that the New Orleans Saints use in the running game with Mark Ingram, Chris Ivory, Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas.
Free agency opens on March 13 and things are sure to get interesting for Bengals fans.