Cedric Benson and What His Release Means for Chicago Bears

Jerry BurnesAnalyst IJune 9, 2008

Cedric Benson's recent release by the Chicago Bears means one thing for the Bears—they are still in search for a feature back.

Last season, Benson under-produced with just 675 yards on 196 carries, equaling an average of 3.4 yards per carry. His teammates didn't produce much better.

Second string back Adrian Peterson carried the ball 150 times for 510 yards and just three touchdowns.

Third string back and rookie Garrett Wolfe ran the ball for 85 yards on 31 carries, but showed game-breaking ability on screen passes, averaging 13 yards per reception.

In the second round of the draft, Chicago selected Tulane running back Matthew Forte to give Benson competition for the starting spot. At 6-2, 216 pounds Forte has the size and speed to be a feature back in the NFL. In his college career he gained 2,432 yards and 31 touchdowns, with 1,375 yards and 23 touchdowns in his senior season.

After getting rid of Thomas Jones, the Bears have struggled to find a running back that can carry the load. 

With last season's feature back exiting, the Bears will need to either sign a free agent running back, or turn to the rookie Forte to revamp the Chicago ground game.

The Denver Broncos have recently released running back Travis Henry. Last season, Henry was limited by an injury, but still picked up 691 yards and four touchdowns. In his eight year career, Henry has amassed 6,086 yards and 38 scores. 

Henry is a good option for the Bears at this point. The Bears save $820,000 on cap space with Benson's release, so if Henry is within price range, the Bears should make a move.

Henry has established himself as a productive feature back with Buffalo, Tennessee, and Denver. He has rushed for over 1,200 yards three times, most recently in 2006.

Henry did face suspension for a failed drug test last season but was not given one. It is the only trouble Henry has faced.

Forte will be interesting to see this season, but if the Bears go with an established back to start the season, Forte can work himself into the starting role.

One thing that is for certain, no matter what the Bears do, they will have one of the more interesting training camps to watch. Between a running back competition and quarterback competition, the Bears will have some make or break decisions for the season.