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While they shouldn't franchise him, the Bengals should re-sign Shayne Graham

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Of all the free agents that the Bengals will throw out to the free agency market, we haven't spoken much about Shayne Graham. Since joining the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003, Graham has converted no less than 83.3% of his field goals in any season, missing only 27 of 194 field goal attempts as the Bengals place kicker. Graham is the third-highest scorer in Bengals history, recording 604 points, 56 points from Doug Pelfrey and 547 points from Jim Breech's record of 1,151 points. Graham holds the the top-three spots for most points scored in a season (131 in 2005 is the top), most points averaged per game (8.19 in 2005) and a franchise record 21 straight field goals made (21 in 2007). His career 87.5% conversion is 10% ahead of second place (Doug Pelfrey) for most accurate kicker in franchise history. He also recorded the top four most accurate kicking seasons (91.2% in 2007 is the top). From 20-29 yards, 30-39 yards, 40-49 yards, Graham is far and away the most accurate, converting only 50% from 50 yards and beyond.

However, his records as, arguably, the Bengals best place kicker, are backseat drivers compared to the nickname he's received from Bengals fans as: choker. And actually, there's two games that are most notable in that argument.

Graham missed a 47-yard field attempt against the Philadelphia Eagles with 13 seconds remaining in overtime, resulting in a 13-13 tie on November 16, 2008. During the 2006 season-finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Graham missed a 39-yard field goal that would have sent the Bengals into the playoffs for consecutive seasons. Instead, Ben Roethlisberger hit Santonio Holmes on a quick pass that went 67 yards and the game winning score in overtime. The Bengals missed the playoffs. He also missed a 62-yard game-winning field goal against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- but a mythical roughing the quarterback, and pass interference calls, were largely to blame for that stupid loss.

In truth, having scanned every game played since 2003, only two games that we could find in which Graham missed a field goal, in the closing seconds, that would have won game with the conversion. Again, we scanned them, so you might want to double-check and see yourself. And even if you want to blame Graham fully for the missed field goal against the Steelers that essentially eliminated the Bengals from 2006 playoffs, we have to say that's a bit unfair, considering the Bengals fumbled the ball 10 times in those last three games, losing four, with two interceptions, an awful defense against the Colts, terribly turnover-prone and inconsistent on offense against the Broncos, and the Bengals rush defense against the Steelers.

On the other hand, Graham has three-game winning field goals in his career in the closing seasons; against Miami (9/19/2004), Baltimore (12/5/2004), and Cleveland (12/11/2005).

We support the Bengals decision to sign Graham to a contract, and we have no reason to believe that the contract would be heavy. Graham's not that type of person. He's community driven, known for his awesome charity work. That's the type of guy we want, right? He's good both on and off the field. For those that complain about character on this team, then Graham is your man. On the other hand, as some have suggested that Graham will be franchised, I disagree with tagging him.

Thoughts?