As training camp gets fully underway, there remains unanswered questions within Bengaldom. Talks between the team and Cedric Benson are said to be ongoing but moving slowly, suggesting Cedric Benson had a bigger figure in mind than Cincinnati does. With Ahmad Bradshaw and Ronnie Brown and without teams, expect the Bengals to do their due diligence before coming to any sort of deal.
The Bengals' next moves could likely come through extending the likes of Leon Hall and locking down one of the aforementioned running backs.
*UPDATE* 31/7 According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Bengals have come to an agreement with Cedric Benson on one-year deal worth $3 million with up to $2 million in incentives.
Something that has proved frustrating with Coach Lewis and Mike Brown is their over-reliance on players stepping up. It has given Bengals fans faith to see that they have chosen to bring in strong players from outside (Clements being the main example) more so than previous years, while steering clear of castoffs, to put it bluntly.
Yet it seems that the 2011 Bengals are stranded somewhere between 'old habits die hard' and a desire for 'new beginnings,' which suggests that Bengals fans are no closer to finding out if Mike Brown will ever find stability than they were in 2005. That really is an answer in of itself.
That's not to say all hope is lost, as with the pieces of the puzzle that we have so far there is certainly reason for optimism in Cincinnati, but maybe just not this year.
While the Bengals have a fairly favorable schedule, growing pains are bound to be the topic of 2011. If Bengals fans want to know where to set their expectations, one might suggest a repeat of last year's 4-12; right now speculation is simply speculation, so take that for what it's worth.
All I can say is at this point is that the Bengals have had a topsy-turvy free agency. While they made an error in letting Joseph get away, they made up for it by bringing in Clements. It will take some time to be able to come to conclusions about various aspects of how they approached this year, but with Chad Ochocinco gone and despite Carson Palmer being 'retired', there is optimism for the future once more, however far off that might be.
While I wouldn't say the positives outweigh the negatives and vice versa, the Bengals are at the precipice of a new era, and it could go either way. It will most certainly take time and patience and if you're one of the few Bengals fan still watching, you know all bout the both of those two things...