Don’t expect any big moves from Bengals

The NFL appears close to being open-for-business once again, and there will soon be a flurry of free-agent signings like we’ve never seen before.

It’s going to be exhilarating … well, unless you’re a Bengal fan.

That’s right, we can all expect the Cincinnati Bengals to stand pat and not make any big moves when the wave of free agency begins. Hopefully they will at least re-sign cornerback Johnathan Joseph if he’s ruled an unrestricted free agent under the new collective bargaining agreement, but signing one of your own players doesn’t really count when talking about “going out and signing free agents.” You know, the kind of thing that real NFL teams do.

Under the rules of the old CBA, Joseph would be an restricted free agent, and a team would have to give the Bengals a first and a third-round draft pick if they signed Joseph to an offer sheet that the Bengals did not match.

The Bengals need to sign Joseph or they will spend years (and several draft picks) trying to find his replacement. Leon Hall will be a free agent at the end of the 2011 season which also plays a role in all of this. However, if the Bengals are smart (something they’ve never been accused of being before) they will just sign Joseph and Hall, and then not have to worry about the cornerback position for years. But they’ll likely find a way to screw it up.

It will also be interesting to see what happens with free agent running back Cedric Benson, who is fresh off his latest arrest. This time for a drunken dispute with a family member. Hey, at least it should bring his asking price down. That’s just the type of bargain Mike Brown is looking for. Someone with legal trouble (or just a bad reputation in general) which automatically pulls their price tag down. It’s a Mike Brown Special.

But really, the Bengals need Benson. I like Bernard Scott, but even with him, the Bengals need another competent back. Say whatever you will about Benson, but he’s been an effective player since joining the Bengals in 2008. He dropped off a bit last year, but the entire team was a mess. I loved watching him in 2009 when the Bengals were AFC North champs and it would be interesting to see what new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden could do with Benson.

And since the Bengals did not take a running back in the draft, they need to retain the tandem of Benson and Scott. They really don’t have anyone else they can rely on.

Although, maybe if they lose Benson, they’ll be a major player in the free agent market for running backs. You can stop laughing now.