The Bengals reported via their twitter feed yesterday that coach Marvin Lewis confirmed that the team is working to re-sign their top two free agents, CB Johnathan Joseph and RB Cedric Benson, before the expiration of the CBA on March 4:
We debated here whether the team should use the franchise tag on one of them, and their chances for success in 2011 rise a measurable amount if they can secure them both. Joseph will be a highly-sought free agent. Cornerbacks are always in high demand and with Champ Bailey recently signing to stay in Denver, one of the other better options is now off the table.
I’d love to see the team bring him back if they can, but Joseph will demand somewhere in the 10 million a year range. With Leon Hall, the other member of the starting tandem, entering the last year of his rookie deal, keeping both seems unlikely.
Benson to me is the bigger need. The team must have a capable power back to compete in the AFC North, and Benson fits that bill. Of course, Benson will probably be easier to bring back before March 4.
At any rate, seeing the team attempt to get these guys back is a positive sign. Whether or not they will succeed remains to be seen. Of course, if they were able to free up the money currently earmarked for Carson Palmer, they’d have a much better shot…
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