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Florio's Bengals Checklist: Part One

Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio has been writing post-lockout to-do lists for teams throughout the NFL. After writing one for the Browns and the Steelers, he moved on to the BengalsHe came up with six things that the Bengals need to do right away once the lockout is lifted. After writing up all six things in one article and realizing that I had written a 1,500-word book, I decided to split the article into two pieces. Here's part one.

We'll start at No. 1.

"Make a Final Decision on Carson Palmer"

What Florio says:

In the end, Brown needs to pick between two alternatives: getting value for Palmer's rights or sending a powerful message to all current and future Bengals regarding their contractual obligations. Three years ago, Brown easily stared down receiver Chad Ochocinco, who wanted out but who wasn't willing to play for no one in lieu of playing for the Bengals. Palmer seems to be intent on never returning to Cincinnati; thus, Brown has to choose between turning his commodity into a draft pick or two and squatting on PAlmer in order to let other players know they can't get out by threatening to retire.

What we say:

Mike Brown has already made his choice. He isn't going to trade Carson Palmer and he's got two reasons (albeit dumb reasons) not to. Reason one: he doesn't want to open the door for any other high-profile player to ever say trade me or I'm done. Reason two: he still thinks that there is a possibility that he can repare his relationship with Palmer and convince him that Cincinnati isn't that bad of a place to play football. When the lockout is lifted, don't expect any news of Carson Palmer being traded.

"Make a Final Decision on Chad Ochocinco"

What Florio says:

And that's a choice the Bengals need to ponder simultaneously with the Palmer dilemma. The increase in the cap floor will make it easier to justify paying Chad's full salary, and he could serve as a valuable mentor to rookie A.J. Green (assuming Chad isn't a bad influence on the fourth overall pick in the draft). Plus, Ochocinco sells tickets and generates interest in the franchise.

On the other hand, owner Mike Brown could decide that the Ochocinco routine has played itself out, and that he's a relic of the past, not a cornerstone of the future.

What we say:

It's a little harder to say what's going to happen to Ochocinco. On one hand, the most tenured wide receiver on the roster would be Andre Caldwell if Chad left the Bengals, but on the other hand, there are doubts about Chad's production and if he's worth the $6.5 million that will be owed to him in 2011.

Of course if the Bengals let Chad go, they would still have to pay him about half of his salary and I don't really see Mike Brown being okay with paying somebody a few million dollars to not play football for his team anymore. He has almost zero value as a trade and I don't think the team wants to pay him to do nothing. Personally, I say out with the old and in with the new, but once the lockout is lifted, I expect Chad to be back in a Bengals uniform.

"Make a Final Decision on Cedric Benson"

What Florio says:

Benson is now an unrestricted free agent, and the Bengals must decide whether to bring him back or move on once the lockout ends.

The outcome may depend on whether Benson can get more from another team than the Bengals will pay. If he does, the Bengals will have to decide whether to fill the void via free agency or bump Bernard Scott up to the top spot on the depth chart.

What we say:

The Bengals are coming into the 2011 season with one of the youngest offenses in the league. They're also entering their first year under new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. It will be extremely important for the offense to be able to hang their hat on something familiar to help make the transition. Benson is that something familiar. It will be extremely important for the Bengals to re-sign Benson once the lockout comes to an end.

If they don't, though, the answer is not Bernard Scott. Scott is too small and not durable enough to take the beating that he would need to endure to be the main running back in the AFC North running the West Coast Offense. While he definitely needs to be utilized more often than he has been in the past and in different ways, he is not capable of taking Benson's place on the depth chart, especially when the Bengals play the Steelers and Ravens twice a year. If the Bengals do start Scott, they could see something similar to what Chris Perry (who was bigger than Scott by 20 pounds) gave the Bengals when he was promoted to the starting back in 2008: a lot of fumbles and not many yards.

Hopefully they learned from their mistake.