Even without an existing CBA, teams have been permitted to designate franchise players, and under the current rules, they can also designate up to 2 transition players. Many teams have tagged franchise players including all 3 divisional rivals. Cleveland tagged kicker Phil Dawson, Pittsburgh tagged LB Lamar Woodley, and Baltimore tagged DT Haloti Ngata.
We debated in this space who the Bengals might tag, with CB Johnathan Joseph and RB Cedric Benson looking like the only two players worthy of the tag. We argued for Benson. Word is coming out that for the second year in a row the Bengals will not tag anyone, leaving both Joseph and Benson to test the waters of free agency (whenever that may begin).
If true, it’s an interesting gamble by the team. Letting Joseph walk seems reasonable, considering the hefty pricetag for franchising cornerbacks (over 14 million/year), and the fact that their most steady CB, Leon Hall, is heading into the last year of his contract.
Benson, however, is a bit of a surprise. Why would the team not work to secure their bell-cow back? Especially when it has been widely reported by Marvin Lewis wants to return to a smash-mouth, run-based offense. Without Benson, the team will most certainly need to draft at least one runningback, and make a push for other veteran help.
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