It's clear that the Cincinnati Bengals are looking for help at running back. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Daniel "Boom" Herron and Cedric Peerman currently compose the entire running back roster (that doesn't include full backs), while Bernard Scott and Brian Leonard have been thrown into the chaotic free agency void. Cincinnati clearly identifies the position, having hosted or (at the very least) expressed rumored interest in Mike Goodson, Chris "Beanie" Wells, Reggie Bush, Rashard Mendenhall and Steven Jackson; though we're not sure how serious any of that was.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Turner, Peyton Hillis, Felix Jones, Cedric Benson and Rashad Jennings remain in free agency, among others. Bradshaw isn't 100 percent healthy after undergoing foot surgery in January. Turner was released from Atlanta after a "failed physical", battling groin injuries, including multiple tears in 2010 and 2011. Hillis and Benson wouldn't fit, Felix Jones hasn't visited with anyone (is that a hint?) and Rashad Jennings was placed on Injured Reserve with shoulder issues and concussions in December.
Though many free agents remain, many are graded along the lines with special teams emphasis and not as a backup running back imagined for Cincinnati's two-back system.
Hence. Moving on.
We do know that offensive coordinator Jay Gruden wants a play-maker at running back and Cincinnati's offense during the 2013 NFL draft.
"We need somebody who can take the ball 80 yards on a swing pass or a handoff or what have you - a little bit of speed," Gruden told Dan Hoard on 700 WLW two weeks ago. "But we're pretty good everywhere, we just need to get our pretty good players and turn them into great players and our great players need to be extraordinary."
The most serious Cincinnati has addressed running back during free agency was a confirmed visit with former Panthers and Raiders running back Mike Goodson, who signed with the New York Jets two days after leaving the Queen City. That being said Goodson was never a serious consideration as the proverbial two in Cincinnati's long-desired one-two punch. Wells stopped by Tuesday, but knee issues are causing teams to hold off on him.
While fans are craving Cincinnati to sign someone, the Bengals appear content to draft their guy (who are generally healthier than these old, injured vets, with limited tread on their tires) within the first three rounds of the 2013 NFL draft. Someone to compliment, though not replicate, BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Someone with a little speed that can hit a home run at any point on the field.
That doesn't mean Cincinnati won't sign a running back from now until late April. They need depth, special teams guys and third down backs with strong blocking skills and soft hands out of the backfield. That was Brian Leonard, hoped to be Mike Goodson, still available heading into Week Two of free agency. And if worse comes to worse, since interest around the league has ignored his name at this point, they bring Leonard back for another one-year deal. It could be worse. But expect the home run hitter in April, not March.