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Market Won't Be There For Big Spenders On Running Backs In Free Agency

Two of the Bengals top offseason priorities right now, if you believe published reports, are re-signing cornerback Johnathan Joseph and running back Cedric Benson. Joseph seems unlikely; a position typically in high demand that will likely knock the Bengals out of the bidding war as we're accustomed to seeing with most of their high-value free agents. Benson, on the other hand, seems more likely.

One reason is that after his season-best 2009 campaign, Benson played to the back of his football card. He posted career averages on rushing yards per attempt. Compared to the NFL, Benson ranked 13th in yards rushing, 10th in first downs picked up and 49th on 20-yard runs (he had two). And only one running back had more fumbles than Benson in 2010.

Another reason he could stay is that the market for running backs might not be there. NFL Network's Pat Kirwan writes:

A college scouting director pointed out with 29 running backs taken in the draft, it didn't leave many teams looking to spend big bucks on the position. He went on to explain that when the top back in the draft didn't go until pick No. 28 (Mark Ingram to the Saints) it pushed a lot of good backs down the draft board who will make teams. There are also undrafted backs like Derrick Locke (Kentucky), Noel Devine (West Virginia) and John Clay (Wisconsin), who will be signed minutes after the labor issues are resolved.

Don't get me wrong, every team needs a good back. Even so, there really aren't many willing to pay much in free agency for a veteran, especially if the next contract brings the back past his 30th birthday.

Benson, who will turn 29 in December, believes he deserves a big contract.

“I think I’m deserving of that I just hope a couple teams feel the same way. It would be nice if it would be the Bengals, they drafted a quarterback in the second round and have young receivers, they’re going to need a horse in there.”