Bengals should pass on new deal with Benson

According to reports, the agent for Bengals RB Cedric Benson approached the club about a new deal. Not surprising, as this is common practice in the league when a player comes off a season in which he shows production.

But, even after Benson rushed for 1,251 yards and six TDs — in only 13 games — for a playoff football team, is it too early to reward a player who is still viewed as a risk by many people in the league?

I like what Benson did in ’09 for the Bengals. When we look back and get into what they were able to do as a team running the football, he does have a major impact on how they game plan for opponents on Sundays. But, we are still talking about a player who was a major disappointment in Chicago after going in the top ten of the draft, has multiple off the field incidents, and was considered finished as a pro before last season.

I usually take the player’s side when I write about contracts if they are productive, but unlike a Chris Johnson in Tennessee, Benson has done it for one year. That isn’t enough in my book to start asking for money.

When we look at the Bengals heading into 2010, we have every right to see them as a playoff contender again. They have one of the most underrated defenses in the league with coordinator Mike Zimmer, and with the additions of WR Antonio Bryant and rookie TE Jermaine Gresham, I expect to see big numbers from both QB Carson Palmer and WR Chad Ochocinco. This offense will prepare differently and they will be more dynamic from a scheme and personnel standpoint this season.

A team that matches up well with Baltimore when you look at them on paper.

What that does is allow Benson even more opportunities. Defenses won’t be able to live in an eight-man front all game long, and when the Bengals do spread the field, Benson will get running lanes. Yes, the power game will still be a big part of the Bengals playbook — and something that is essential to winning in the AFC North — but they can do so much more because of the explosive personnel they added this offseason.

That makes Benson more attractive and more marketable when he does show the team that he can do it again in 2010. And, if he is still producing at a high level come November and December — and this team is winning again — there is no reason not to start talking about a new deal.

Because Benson will have earned that right.

For now, I tell the Benson camp that it is too early. Cincy needs to lock up some defensive talent first. Great year in ’09, but why don’t you show me again before I make you an offer. And, doing it again will make Benson even more money.

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