Going into 2013, the Bengals have three possible openings that will need to be filled at the running back position. Backup running backs Bernard Scott, Cedric Peerman and Brian Leonard are all set to hit free agency as unrestricted free agents and it's unclear whether the team will bring any of them back. A possible scenario is that the team brings back one and we think that either Peerman or Leonard would be that one guy because of their versatility and ability to play special teams.
But which one would be the better keep?
Brian Leonard came to Cincinnati in 2009 in a trade with the St. Louis Rams for then-defensive tackle Orien Harris. The Rams later released Harris and he returned to the Bengals, completing one of the better trades in the team's history. Since his arrival, Leonard has contributed on offense and special teams, becoming one of the most clutch players in recent memory. In his four seasons here, Leonard has accumulated 336 rushing yards and a whopping 83 receptions. A good chunk his 56 total first downs were clutch conversions and he is also known as a good pass blocker in the offense.
Though he had the most carries in his Bengals career last season with 33, his role has seemingly diminished in Jay Gruden's West Coast system. Leonard was brought in during the Bob Bratkowski days and while he has been a nice outlet for Andy Dalton, he was an incredibly nice security blanket for Carson Palmer in 2009 and 2010. Though he plays a number of under-appreciated roles on the team, his days could be over in Cincinnati if Gruden doesn't think he's a fit in his offense any longer.
Cedric Peerman bounced around a handful of clubs before he landed in Cincinnati in 2010. His first two seasons here were spent primarily on special teams and he excelled as a gunner on coverage and a blocker on returns. It was in 2012 where Peerman saw some extensive action on offense, particularly when Scott went down for the year with a knee injury. He finished 2012 with 36 carries for 258 yards (a 7.2 yards per carry average) and one touchdown.
Though Peerman had some impressive rushing statistics, it's important to note that a good portion of those yards came on both garbage time duty as well as a fake punt run for 48 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also isn't anywhere near the receiver that Leonard is, grabbing only ten total passes in his entire career and his forte seems to still be on special teams.
So again, it's entirely possible that the team will be faced with the decision of keeping only one of these two guys. If that is the case, who would you prefer that they keep--Leonard or Peerman?