The Cincinnati Bengals had a solid 2011 season and made it all the way to the playoffs as a Wild Card team before getting bounced in the first round by the Houston Texans. The Bengals will be looking for ways to build on their modest success in the coming season, and the team will first have to take a look at its impending free agents.
One of their players who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 13 is running back Cedric Benson, who has been with the team since 2008.
According to Bengals beat writer Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the team has not contacted Benson about a new contract. Benson appeared on Sirius NFL Radio recently, and stated that he's not sure where things stand at this point.
Reedy points out that Benson struggled late in the season last year, fumbling five times in a two-game span and getting hardly any rushing yardage in losses to the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans.
The odds of Benson returning for a fifth season in Cincinnati were slim at best as Jay Gruden would like to have more than one feature back along with averaging more than 3.8 yards per carry. After the latest comments they are even slimmer. There wasn't much interest in Benson last year on the open market after an off-field incident late in the lockout, but Benson hopes that this offseason is different.
"I'm definitely looking forward to much better things than what we had last offseason," he said. "As long as I keep things straight here in the offseason, everything will be all right."
Since joining the Bengals in 2008, Benson has only managed to have one offseason go by without getting arrested (2009). It is possible that the Bengals wish to distance themselves from those off-field shenanigans, as well as his lack of yardage.
For more on the Bengals offseason, be sure to check out Cincy Jungle.