Another position headed for an overhaul is the running backs. Only BJGE and Dan Herron are signed with them team past March 11. With the rest as free agents, now is a perfect time to reshape a position that has been a significant culprit in the under-performing offense.
We know that BJGE will be back in 2013. But the guy who was supposed to switch off with him, Bernard Scott, will probably be sent to seek his fortunes elsewhere. I was as excited as the rest about the kid for a couple of years. But that excitement has atrophied as he sat on the bench clinging to crutches. That explosive burst we saw on occasion is of little use on the sidelines.
Someone who fans are debating over is Brian Leonard. He was an effective third-down option for Carson Palmer, but he has not received the same opportunities under Jon Gruden. With his production down, some want to let him walk while others want to keep him and get him involved on third downs again.
The free agent most likely to return is Cedric Peerman. The Bengals often keep their RFAs, and Peerman did well with the opportunities he got in 2012. He averaged 7.2 yds/carry over 36 attempts. Not bad at all. And even if you remove his longest run of 48 yards on a fake punt against Jacksonville, he still averaged 6.0 yds/carry. He has earned the chance to come back and see if he can be productive with more touches, and that chance could come at Brian Leonard’s expense.
Finally, Dan Herron will return to contribute again on special teams, filling the spot left by Peerman since his rough preseason and 5 yds on 4 carries over the final 4 games of the season aren’t exactly eye-popping. Chris Pressley will return for another year at fullback.
With at least one spot to fill, and as many as three if they decide to clean house for new RB coach Hue Jackson, there is plenty of interest in drafting a guy early in the draft. The draft is stocked enough that the Bengals should not feel pressed to take one in the first round, especially with the devaluing of the position and success of other teams finding great backs in late rounds. The odds of both popular names–Eddie Lacy and Giovani Bernard–being gone by the 37th pick seem low, although other quality backs would still be available even at #53 and #84. Odds look favorable that the Bengals could draft two RBs this year, one early and another late.
Then there are always those temptations in free agency. I’ve heard more than one fan lobby for bringing in the guy they wish had been here all along: Steven Jackson. But entering his 10th season, age and durability are legitimate concerns. I’ve heard others call for Chris Rainey, the troubled RB set to be released by the Steelers who plowed through the Bengals’ defense this season. I don’t even want to talk about the cash-hungry diva Reggie Bush.
There are so many ways to approach upgrading this position that I could have gone crazy with the poll. But instead, I’ll leave it to you to make a comment if you don’t see the names you covet. Discuss.