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Week In Review: Cincinnati Bengals Can Use Franchise Tag On Johnathan Joseph Or Cedric Benson

Two of several Bengals players are heading into free agency. And based on the team's history of paying their own when they reach a certain level, it seems that they could be walking once a new CBA is agreed and they officially become free agents. Fortunately for the Bengals, the league let teams know that the rules regarding the Franchise Tag still applies.

If the Bengals choose to use the Franchise Tag, and they've had a willingness to do so in the past, which players should the team franchise?

Cedric Benson has been outspoken about the team's folly going from the 2009-successful power rushing offense into the more pass-happy offense in 2010. And the numbers prove it.

  2009 2010
Runs 505 428
Passes 511 617

For Benson to return, we believe that the team will need to replace offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski. Or, at the very most, a belief that the team will focus as a power rushing offense. Now, it might seem selfish of Benson to demand the football. But that selfishness comes with a simple truth. In 2009, the Bengals won ten games by having a balanced offense, passing the football only six times more than running it. All season. In 2010, the Bengals passed the football 189 more times than running it.

However, one could argue that that is too simplistic. The team often played from behind in 2010, largely because of an ineffective rushing offense that averaged 3.6 yards/rush, compared to 4.1 yards/rush in 2009. After time, a lack of trust may have developed with Benson losing five fumbles, most of which came during critical moments.

Though an argument in favor of Benson being franchise if no long-term agreement can be reached, is Carson Palmer. If the team ends up trading the quarterback (which seems very unlikely), then the team will need stability somewhere and keeping Benson, in their mind, would provide that.

On the other hand, there's Johnathan Joseph. When he's healthy, he's one of the best cornerbacks in the league. When quarterbacks threw the football in Joseph's direction in 2009, he limited passers to a quarterback rating of 67.8; including six interceptions. Receivers he covered only posted an average of 49 yards receiving per game.

However, injuries have been a problem for Joseph, missing four games in 2010. Never really healthy, opposing quarterbacks posted a passer rating of 81.3 passing Joseph's direction. Yet, receivers still only averaged 36.3 yards receiving per game and the two longest receptions he allowed came in the first two weeks of the season. In his past ten games in 2010, Joseph only allowed two receptions of 20 yards or more.

With health issues limiting Joseph's playing time in the past, is it worth franchising a cornerback that could be paid upwards to $10 million?

Then again, they could just as easily franchise Mike Nugent, even though he's signed for 2011 already.