This past season the Bengals have taken chances on a few players that may not have came from the best situations prior to joining the organization.
The team took major risks on adding Cedric Benson to the roster along with Tank Johnson, Bernard Scott, and other various players. However, these risks seemed to pay off for the team as the players fit in very well and carried the team to the playoffs.
The main contributer and undoubtedly the Bengals most productive offensive player was Cedric Benson.
Benson has had quite a big history. In 2001 he was a 12th round pick baseball player for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He had never played a Major League game, so he started focusing on his football career going to the University of Texas and becoming a great running back.
In his four years at the University of Texas he rushed for 5,540 yards which was sixth in NCAA Division 1-A football. Second only to Ricky Williams in school history.
He won the Doak Walker Award which is given to the nation's top running back in college, and was an All-American as a freshman.
Although Benson was such a talent he also got into some trouble. He was arrested twice in college, once for possession of marijuana and second for criminal trespassing. He was only convicted for the criminal trespassing, but didn't serve time do to the jail being overcrowded.
It didn't affect his draft stock though. After his four years at Texas Benson was the fourth overall pick to the Chicago Bears in the 2005 draft.
In his short stay in Chicago Benson produced nothing more than criminal activity, and it landed him out the door from the team and considered a bust by most.
The Bengals had been a team that didn't care about criminal history and a team that was big on second chances so they signed Benson in the middle of the 2008 season and its safe to say it was a bargain.
Last season Benson gained 1,251 yards on the ground carrying the ball 301 times. He only had six touchdowns on the ground, but he was as productive as Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson last season. It was only when he was injured did he fall out of the rushing lead and that's why he didn't lead at the end of the season.
With the Bengals limited play calling mostly running plays, Benson did an astonishing job getting 4.2 yards per carry.
Against the Jets in the playoffs he gained eight yards a carry and was the only offense for the Bengals producing 169 yards rushing in a 24-14 loss.
A key stat is Benson gained 100 yards on some of the best defenses in the league like Green Bay and Baltimore twice. Baltimore hadn't let a rusher gain a hundred yards in 49 consecutive games.
Now the question is should the Bengals give Benson a new contract?
They are only in talks about it right now and negotiations, with an uncapped year it may be a good idea to go ahead and extend Benson's deal. However, they have done this before in the likes of Rudi Johnson and how did that turn out?
Rudi holds the Bengals single season rushing record and was very successful like Benson. The Bengals need to remember that all it took was a knee injury and Rudi Johnson was never the same.
Benson is a great running back, but you can't just give him an extension because of one good season, i'd wait until the middle of the season to fully discuss this.
They need to look at Bernard Scott because he is a very good running back and I think could be the Bengals running back for the up and coming years.
The Bengals have plenty of time to give Benson an extension, and if they do it too quickly it could very well come back to haunt them. Running backs aren't lasting as long as they once have in the NFL and with the AFC North's physical defenses its not a stretch for anyone to get injured.
Benson has certainly earned his stripes with the team, but I wouldn't say he's earned a contract extension. I would like to see him break Rudi's single season record first before we start handing him the money.