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Brian Leonard Hoping for a New Deal With The Bengals

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Rutgers product Brian Leonard has been a huge part of the Bengals offense over the past two years as the team's third-down running back. In 2009, he had few plays in key situations on third downs during those last minute touchdown drives that allowed the Bengals to come back and beat teams like the Steelers and Ravens on their road to an AFC North title and their second playoff appearance in five years.

Leonard, like Brandon Johnson and Johnathan Joseph, was tendered as a restricted free agent but the new free agency rules will allow him to be an unrestricted free agent once the lockout is lifted. He still hopes to be re-signed by the Bengals, though.

"Right now I am a restricted free agent, but once the new CBA is signed, I become an unrestricted free agent, which allows me to shop around and see if any other teams are interested," Leonard said.

"But I really like living in Cincinnati and I like playing for the Bengals," he added. " They really know how to use a back with my skills."

To ensure that he's signed to the Bengals, or another team, if the Bengals don't want to spend the money to keep Leonard around, he has been working out with former Rutgers football players, Jason McCourty and Kevin Mallast of the Tennessee Titans, Devin McCourty of the New England Patriots and Jeremy Zuttah of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Leonard believes he's in great shape and hopes that helps him get signed once the lockout is lifted.

"I am in the best physical condition that I have been in for the past couple of years, and I am ready to get back to playing football," Leonard said. "It has been a big part of my life since I was a little kid."

"I am in great shape now and I have to be ready to get into camp as fast as I can and get into football shape."

Hopefully the Bengals see the value in re-signing Leonard, who can be an extremely effective third-down back. If he's healthy, Leonard can help the Bengals move the chains on third downs like few other running backs can.