The National Football League lockout is over, which means that all 32 NFL teams will soon be going back to work. Being a lifelong fan of the Cincinnati Bengals since I have lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, all my life I have come to always dread the beginning of preseason. This year because of the lockout, several different areas remain a concern for the Cincinnati Bengals, and for their fans. It is expected that Tuesday the beginning of trades will be made and free agents will be signed, but what should the Cincinnati Bengals be focused on? Here are four of the most crucial players that the Cincinnati Bengals need to look at now that the lockout is over.
It is not a shocker to fans of the Cincinnati Bengals that there is a huge problem with the starting quarterback Carson Palmer. Carson has been with the team since 2003, but has grown increasingly frustrated with the plays, players and management. Most recently Carson has said through his representative that he would rather retire than play for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011, if he is not traded. That being said, Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown has repeatedly stated he would not trade Carson, and that he hoped he would come back in 2011 to play his last season. The Cincinnati Bengals drafted rookie Andy Dalton in the 2011 NFL Draft and he is presumed to be the starting quarterback if indeed Carson does choose to retire or is traded to another team. Either way you look at it, you need a quarterback to play football and right now the team is in limbo until negotiations between teams and players can take place.
Chad Ochocinco is a wide receiver team that might be gone as soon as the negotiations begin this week, but that is purely based on speculation. Chad has had his fair share of controversy and outlandish behavior as a member of the team, and most recently has been in feuds with head coach Marvin Lewis. Not to mention that Chad has an option for 2011, it might mean the end of the craziness that has so far been nothing short of entertaining. In the 2011 NFL Draft the Cincinnati Bengals picked wide receiver A.J. Green in the second round, which makes it all the more likely that Chad might have already played his last game in Cincinnati, Ohio. Chad has been criticized recently by Mike and Marvin for his off-field antics which consisted of bull riding, competing on “Dancing with the Stars” and driving race cars. These antics might prove to be too much for the talent that Chad possesses and it is something that needs to be considered sooner rather than later.
Cedric Benson was a highlight running back for the Cincinnati Bengals for the past few years, but things are a little shaky now. Cedric was arrested a week ago for allegedly assaulting a roommate down in Austin, Texas, and this is not his first run in with the law since signing onto the team. With the latest arrest of Cedric comes the worry of whether or not he is really more of a benefit to the team than a distraction. It is not news that the Cincinnati Bengals keep troubled players in the NFL, but Cedric has had many chances to prove he has changed and it seems he might not have. Cedric is also getting older and might not be the powerhouse he once was, which could make it likely he will be replaced with a younger and fresher running back. It seems that whether or not Cedric returns is likely dependent upon what, if anything, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell does to him for yet another violation of the personal conduct policy.
Mike Nugent is the kicker for the Cincinnati Bengals, but his season ended in November with a torn ACL and Clint Stitser replaced him for the remainder of the season. Mike was a fairly good kicker compared to Shayne Graham, who was cut after crucial missed field goals in the recent years. Clint was an okay kicker for the team but he is not any type of long term replacement for the team, but is Mike really the kicker of the future? The Cincinnati Bengals went through three kickers in 2010, losing two of them to injury and cutting one because he just was not any good. Any good NFL team needs a good kicker that can be spot on when it matters the most, and that is something the Cincinnati Bengals have lacked for a couple of years now. Whether Mike is the kicker of the future or the kicker of the past will likely be determined by his injury rehabilitation, and whether or not there are more reliable options on the market.