It’s a near certainty that the Cincinnati Bengals will address the running back position this off-season. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was brought in before last season, and had a very good season, but his lack of speed and game-breaking ability allowed opposing defenses to commit more guys to the passing game and taking away AJ Green. A back that is a bigger threat to score on every play certainly makes the offense more dangerous, as defenses have to account for him more diligently, probably by putting more guys near the line of scrimmage. This will create more opportunities in the passing game. The Bengals absolutely need to add a RB. The question is whether they do this via the draft or through free agency. If they go the free agent route, the most commonly brought up name is Miami Dolphins RB Reggie Bush.
Bush is an ultra-talented player and would be a dynamic addition to any team. He has tremendous speed, tons of shiftiness in space and is a terrific receiver out of the backfield. He can be used in a multitude of ways, lining up as a RB, in the slot or out wide as a receiver. He also has a number of highlight reel plays throughout his career, fulfilling the “game-breaker” requirement handily. Add his ability to return punts and he would fit exactly what the Bengals need in a new RB.
There are downsides to signing Bush, however. First and foremost could be the cost. His contract paid him over $6 million in 2012 and he will likely want something near that again this year. The Bengals do have some cap space to work with but also have a lot of their own players to sign and bringing in Bush could force them to part ways with other key players. With new contracts due for Green, Andy Dalton, Geno Atkins and others coming up within the next few years, the team might elect to hold onto some cap flexibility. Injuries could also factor into the decision. Bush has stayed relatively healthy in his two seasons in Miami, but he has had several issues with leg injuries in his seven years in the NFL. Finally, and maybe the biggest reason, is that there are some very good backs available in this year’s draft. Running backs have found plenty of success as rookies and are just as likely to succeed as an added free agent.
Bush is a solid player and in my opinion has never been utilized to his full ability. He was drafted second overall because of his explosiveness and knack for making plays. Since he was drafted, teams have tried to pigeonhole him into being just a RB. Bush is a football player and I think he could be fantastic in orange and black stripes. However, in this instance, under these circumstances, the best decision for Cincinnati is to draft their next RB and pass on Reggie Bush.