Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com writes that the Cincinnati Bengals will most likely turn their attention to their players that are set to become free agents such as RB Cedric Benson and CB Johnathan Joseph.
“We have to be prepared to go kick off at any point. Everything could change April 6 or 7,” said Marvin Lewis, per Hobson. “We don’t know that. At least I don’t know that. I don’t know if we’ll pounce. Number one, the important thing, when things open back up is to get our guys. Whatever is going to happen to our guys that are potential free agents, whether it’s them having an opportunity to test the market, come back and say, ‘Here it is. Let’s go.’ However it transpires, that’s the priority.”
It would make a good deal of sense for the Bengals to retain Johnathan Joseph considering that he is their best defensive player but they should remain cautious about offering Benson a longterm deal . Running backs are becoming cheaper and cheaper and are being used as part of tandems rather than as featured running backs, so tossing a sizable deal at Benson isn’t exactly the best use their financial resources. Losing Benson would no doubt hurt their 2011 offense but paying him the kind of money that he’ll be seeking could cause longterm problems for the team. It’s beginning to look as if there will be a number of decent running back prospects available in the middle rounds which is something that Bengals should strongly consider even if they retain Benson. Pairing Cedric with a young back could allow them to make an easy transition from an aging veteran to young and upcoming running back that has a solid understanding of the teams offense.
The decision to retain veteran players is fueled by the labor dispute so you’ll see plenty of other teams trying to re-sign some of their players to maintain some amount of continuity for the upcoming season.