It has been reported by several sources that the Cedric Benson is in Green Bay and will be signing with the team in the next day or two. Let's assume he will sign. What does this mean for the Pack?
The team is getting a player who was drafted the same year as Aaron Rodgers and, in fact, was drafted before Rodgers. He went 4th overall to the Bears. Benson was the last 1st round pick to sign his rookie deal that year. He played in Chicago for 3 seasons and largely underachieved. In June 2008, Benson was arrested twice in a span of 5 weeks for DUI and released by the Bears. He went on to sign with the Bengals in 2008. He has spent the last 4 seasons with the team and was not re-signed when his contract ended following 2011. Benson has garnered some recent interest from the Packers, Jets and Raiders.
One of the big concerns about Benson are his off-field issues. In addition to the DUI arrests previously mentioned, Benson was also arrested in 2010 and 2011 on assault charges in Texas where he starred as a Longhorn running back at University of Texas. After having met with Benson following the 2 DUI arrests and deciding not to suspend him, Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Benson for 3 games in 2011 following the last assault charge. It was later reduced to 1 game. It's clear that Ced has exercised some very questionable judgment in the past and that is not something to be ignored. He turns 30 this December and naturally has a limited shelf life as a running back. Hopefully the more low-key environment in Green Bay along with a strong veteran presence in the locker room can elicit the best that Benson has left.
In his career, Benson has had some issues hanging onto the ball. He has fumbled 19 times in his career, losing 11 of those. During the last 3 years, he fumbled 13 times and losing 7 of those. You may recall his forgettable performance in Super Bowl XLI when he rushed twice for -1 total yards and had a costly fumble before leaving the game with a knee injury. However, Benson has also amassed 3,429 yards over the past 3 seasons and has eclipsed 1,000 yards in each. In terms of total yards, he ranked 12th in 2011, 13th in 2010, and 8th in 2009, his best statistical season (2nd in yards/game behind Chris Johnson). It should also be mentioned he ranked in the top 10 in rushing attempts in each of those years. He is the definition of a "work horse" running back but has never reached double digits in rushing TD's and has only 1 receiving TD in his career.
He is likely being brought in to provide some experience and production in a backfield that currently features 10 total years of playing experience (James Starks, Alex Green, Brandon Saine and John Kuhn). Benson has been credited with a strong work ethic and he plays hard. His conditioning has never been an issue. He has also proven to be a decent blocker, which is an important facet of a RB's game in Green Bay. The pass-heavy offensive scheme makes some scratch their heads at this signing but GM Ted Thompson marches to the beat of his own drum and has a Super Bowl win to his credit. While he has seemingly foregone bringing in outside free agents over the past 4 seasons, Benson would mark the 2nd "big name" outsider added to this year's team. UFA Jeff Saturday was signed in March to replace departed Center Scott Wells. If nothing else, it can't be said that the team isn't thinking outside the box in trying to improve its offense.