We continue our look at the upcoming free agents for the Green Bay Packers with a look at a player who just came to the team via free agency last year: running back Cedric Benson. Benson’s time with the Packers is one defined by injury. He came to the Packers because of injuries to the running back group early in training camp, most notably a turf toe injury to James Starks. His season with the Packers came to an end in week five against the Colts with a foot injury of his own. Due to his age and the amount of carries he has had over his carry there is some question whether he would be back in Green Bay next year.
Benson started five games for the Packers. Unfortunately it seemed like a rocky relationship to start, with the Packers having to relearn how to use a running back of Benson’s style in the offense. The best example of this is week one against the 49ers. Benson received only nine carries for the game and averaged only 2 YPC. Naturally some of this is on Benson, but it seemed that the coaching staff did not give Benson a chance to really get warmed up in the game as well. This mistake was repeated in week three against the Seahawks, when the Packers basically forgot to run the ball in the first half. In the second half the Packers ran the offense primarily through Benson and had much more control of the game.
Benson ended his first year with the Packers with 71 attempts for 248 yards and a touchdown. These are not earth shattering numbers, and place him with a similar YPC as James Starks and Alex Green. Despite this low YPC, Benson seemed the most consistent of the running backs the Packers used in 2012 and was able to make the most of some poor run blocking up front.
The whole reason Benson came to town is because the Packers need a tough run cut running back. This has not changed since last summer. Alex Green is still a question mark with the nagging injuries that took him out of the line up late in the year. James Starks still remains unreliable. DuJuan Harris provides an interesting element to the Packers running back, but it is unlikely he can be a feature back due to his smaller stature. The coaches have raved about Brandon Saine, but he is coming off his own injury which placed him on IR. Saine also did not have a high ceiling to begin with as well.
Likelihood of Re-Signing
Moderate. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Benson back with the Packers again in 2013. He will come at an inexpensive price and he generally knows the offense already. He should be able to provide some sort of balance with Harris and Green should he make a full recovery from his foot injury.
Despite this good price the Packers could also go in many other ways as well. The Packers could go after Stephen Jackson, Chris Ivory, or Michael Turner instead. The Packers could also draft a rookie from the deep pool of talent available at RB in this year’s draft. The bottom line is that running back is not a position that needs much time in the offense to integrate, nor does it take much time to learn. Therefore the main benefit of keeping Benson is price.
Estimated odds of re-signing: 50%