Today, it was made official: Chris Henry is back in Cincy.
He had been cut, not all that long ago, by these same Bengals, so the move must have been pretty damn awkward. And it's not like he was cut for poor play. Rather, it was off-field incidents that fueled his release, including five arrests since 2005. So did the Bengals decide that they've forgiven him? Do they think he's turned over a new leaf?
Maybe. But maybe not: The signing came shortly after star wide receiver Chad Johnson hurt his shoulder, joining fellow big-name receiver (both figuratively and literally) T.J. Houshmandzadeh on the sideline.
Running back Rudi Johnson also hasn't seen any preseason action.
So, perhaps realizing they needed insurance, the Bengals have swallowed their balls and brought back Henry. At first glance, it looks pretty good. Sure, he's a problem child, but he's a solid football player and should see action in Johnson's and Housh's steads. The Yankees made a similar decision, signing Sidney Ponson, and it's paid off so far.
But by the same token, the Bengals do look a little silly and maybe even hypocritical. They cut this guy already, even though they knew first-hand of his talent. They said enough is enough.
I understand there's a need, but this really could not have been their ideal choice. It's not that Henry is unrosterable, but the Bengals have put their foot down, and now they've let up. It just doesn't look all that great from an organizational standpoint.
But hey, they made a decision. Maybe it's controversial, maybe it's a little embarrassing, but they're desperate, right?
Well, that's a fine and dandy argument, until you get to Henry's four-game suspension. I know it's appealable, but you can't bank on the NFL removing it, especially given the guy's history. His eight-game suspension last year didn't send the message, so why would the NFL reduce this latest one?
By the time this guy is even eligible to play, Johnson and/or Housh could very realistically be back. The guy probably won't fill either of their roles. By the time he's eligible to play, he'll be in the same third-receiver role he'd occupied when the Bengals chose to move on.
Johnson hasn't revealed much about his injury, so perhaps this is an indication that he's hurt badly and could miss a lot of time, and Henry may still be needed even after four full weeks of inactivity.
But the comments from the Bengals indicate that they've simply changed their minds. Joe Kay of the AP has this to say: "Receiver Chris Henry is back with the Cincinnati Bengals because their owner has a soft spot for troubled players."
According to Kay, Henry's deal is for two years, another indication that Henry isn't there just for insurance, but as a legitimate pickup.
Kay also quotes Bengals owner Mike Brown from the time Henry was cut loose: "His conduct can no longer be tolerated. The Bengals tried for an extended period of time to support Chris and his potentially bright career. We had hoped to guide him toward an appropriate standard of personal responsibility that this community would support and that would allow him to play in the NFL. But those efforts end today, as we move on with what is best for our team."
Yet Henry is back, despite Brown's apparent disgust. It appears he's simply had a change of heart. It certainly wasn't Head Coach Marvin Williams' decision. He didn't want Henry back. But he deferred to Brown, and simply said that the owner wanted him back, and the owner has the final say.
So here we have a head coach who doesn't want any part of a specific talented receiver. That says a lot about how poor the man's conduct is. Despite a rash of injuries, his suspension will render him unable to fill in. And it's not like the Bengals are unaware of his capabilities. They were the team that cut him, feeling he just wasn't worth the trouble. The owner himself firmly stated his intention to part ways.
But they've flip-flopped. The owner has magically changed his mind. As far as anyone can tell, Henry hasn't done anything to redeem himself. He's just caught Mike Brown's eye. While Henry is loaded with talent, this signing can only reflect poorly on the Bengals' organization.