Monday, February 27, 2017

Cincinnati Bengals Can’t Let Rex Burkhead Get Away

By Emile Pierce

February 26, 2017

Rex Burkhead has emerged as a free agent priority on many NFL lists. Now, it’s time for the Bengals to do the right thing and bring him back.

The Cincinnati Bengals have done it again. The franchise has effectively allowed another top-tier athlete access to that place many fans dread. They have ignored the talents of running back Rex Burkhead and face the possibility of losing him in free agency. It’s now two years in a row that fans are biting nails and sitting on their fingers. The insanity of grooming players for other teams has to end. Rex can’t get away.

Free agency can be both a blessing and a curse for teams. In the case of the Bengals, the 2016 season yielded a decent case for the free agent pool. Brandon LaFell was picked up by Bengals brass and was better than advertised. Instead of an injury-laden ex-New England Patriot, LaFell proved to be a worthy No. 2 receiver. He was able to rock the competition for 862 yards and six TDs. His best season was in 2014 when Tom Brady was tossing him the pigskin. That year, he pulled in 953 yards.

Linebacker Karlos Dansby came to the Queen City in search of a ring. But, did he bring his A Game from The Dawg Pound? A quick comparison, via ESPN, shows that his stats were virtually the same. But, Sporting Charts gives the argument that his 2016 Stuff yards made him a great value for the Bengals. He chimed in just outside the top 10.

We Talkin’ ‘Bout T-Rex

Unfortunately, the Bengals will see a few of their productive free agents sign with other teams. It’s a reality of the NFL that oftentimes sucks. But, it didn’t have to come to this. Burkhead waited patiently on an opportunity to show his worth…and it came. It came late but he was able to prove a point.

Bengals fans were able to see the former Nebraska Cornhusker do what comes naturally. He ripped up the Baltimore Ravens run defense with ease. In the January 1 finale, PBS rocked as Burkhead weaved and slashed for 119 yards on the ground and 144 total.

Now, there’s a chance Burkhead won’t be wearing Orange and Black.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis spoke life into the situation. Per, his thoughts are solely on getting Burkhead on the field for Cincinnati. Yes. Jeremy Hill is going to remain the featured back. But, the objective is clear.

“We have no other choice. We bet on Jeremy to continue to progress and move forward,” Lewis explained. “Our job is to try and re-sign Rex. That doesn’t affect Jeremy.”

It’s good to know that Lewis understands the value of Burkhead’s presence. The intensity he brings to the running game will be a necessary evil in the AFC North. Even if he’s merely used more than he was before his “discovery,” the increase in carries means ball control offense.

Do The “Smart” Thing

The Bengals have become a free agent machine for teams on the come up (check out Urban Dictionary). In other words, players like Mohamed Sanu, Reggie Nelson (2016 Pro Bowl), and Marvin Jones helped their new teams ball out. But, those talents could have been utilized for a better record in Cincinnati.

If the Bengals want to truly ensure the success of the running game. It’s a simple gesture. Burkhead is a beast. Pay the man and get the season started right. The consequences of Rex getting away are not worth it.

Burkhead wants to remain with the Bengals. But, he’s no idiot.

“I always wanted to play for one team my whole career,” Burkhead said, via the Omaha World-Herald, “but if the opportunity is better for my family and myself somewhere else, I’m not going to pass that up.”

Burkhead’s rookie contract was $2.26m, over four years. Now, the Bengals will have to wrestle with the entire NFL to keep him on the Ohio River shores.

I’ve never been one to beg. But, there’s always a place to start. Oh, great and powerful owner Mike Brown…please do the right thing.

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