The Cincinnati Bengals had a slow start to the NFL free agency period, but now things are heating up. The Bengals have agreed to terms with former New England Patriots running back BenJarvus Green Ellis.
The move isn’t surprising since the Bengals have been looking for a starting running back and had both Green-Ellis and former Oakland Raider Michael Bush in for visits within the past week.
Green-Ellis is a solid fit for the Bengals as offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is looking to utilize a running back by committee approach. The move allows the team to find a starting running back in the upcoming draft, while Green-Ellis and Bernard Scott take snaps as well.
Green-Ellis was the feature back in New England last season, carrying the ball 181 times for 667 yards and 11 touchdowns. His average was only 3.7, less than Bengals starter Cedric Benson’s 3.9 last season, but on far fewer snaps.
In only four seasons with the Patriots, Green-Ellis amassed 2,064 yards and 29 touchdowns on a 4.0 average. In 2010 he saw the most carries of his career, where he racked up 1,008 yards and 13 touchdowns on a 4.4 average. That season is a good measuring stick of what to expect from him if the Bengals were to utilize him as a feature back.
Green-Ellis, better known as “The Law Firm,” is a power runner that can get the tough yards between the tackles. He isn’t a threat in the passing game, having never caught a touchdown or went for over 200 yards in a season. However, he is a tough runner in the mold of Benson, but is only 26 years old.
“The Law Firm” is a clear-cut upgrade over Benson. It’s hard to forget Benson’s struggles holding onto the ball, but Green-Ellis hasn’t experienced those same issues. In his four years, Green-Ellis hasn’t fumbled the ball once.
While Bush may have been the more attractive option, it was clear from the beginning he was seeking a feature back role and the money that comes with it. That simply isn’t the way the Bengals are progressing offensively.
Green-Ellis is used to a committee approach, especially in pass-happy New England. Last season he carried the ball over 20 times in a game only twice, which is likely what will happen next season with the Bengals as well.
Now that the Bengals have a solid one-two at the running back position with Green-Ellis and Scott, the options are limitless in the upcoming draft. Scott is a change of pace back while Green-Ellis can carry an entire load or simply be a short-yardage back. If the Bengals elect to bring in a back through the draft, the Bengals could have a deadly trio of running back similar to what the New Orleans Saints had last season.
Regardless of what the Bengals do from here, one thing is for certain – having “The Law Firm” is stripes is a significant upgrade and provides the front office with intriguing options as the offseason progresses.