Veterans Sound Off on Benson

Ronnie Brown has agreed to terms with the Miami Dolphins, which means Cedric Benson is the highest remaining draft pick yet so sign. Two of his teammates weighed in on the situation along with an update on negotiations.

Brown ended his three-week holdout by agreeing to five-year deal reportedly worth $20 million in guaranteed money and a maximum value of $35 million.

The holdup on the deal seems to be that Benson wants a five-year contract, while the Bears would prefer six years. The only first round pick to agree to that length was top choice QB Alex Smith.

In all honesty, the Bears may be their own worst enemy in this situation. Giving Benson six years instead of five is a questionable move for a running back. Considering Benson had 1,112 carries in four-years at Texas he has more wear than most college back coming into the league.

Being able to revaluate his stock after five years could be a better option in the long run than tacking on another year to the initial contract.

The Bears do not plan to throw the ball 30 times a game, which means running the ball is going to be the emphasis the offense and would have been even with Rex Grossman. Thomas Jones is not a durable back and the longer Benson is out, the longer it will take for him to be ready to play.

"It would be really good to get him in to see what he looks like in pads and how he's going to be as a running back for us," Muhammad said. "Maybe scrape the rust off him a little bit, get him in a couple preseason games and see what he can do."

While a contract holdout facilitated Adewale Ogunleye's trade to Chicago, he didn't mince words when asked about Benson.

"He's a rookie. You never really can depend on a rookie," Ogunleye said. "For people to really say that (he would give the team a boost), that's saying that you're organization is really not worth too much."

Ogunleye also said that he wouldn't have a problem with Thomas Jones being the starting running back all season.

"Right now he's our best running back," Ogunleye said of Jones. "Until somebody else proves me different I think he's the best guy for the job right now."

Benson has already missed two preseason games and all but assured of missing Saturday's contest against the Indianapolis Colts. Meaning a best-case scenario would leave him with two games to get ready for the regular season.

There have been cases where draft choices have had extended holdouts and still been able to contribute as a rookie. LaDainian Tomlinson came in second to Anthony Thomas for Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2001. Edgerrin James rushed for 1,553 yards after his holdout as the fourth overall choice in 1999.

Living in Austin, newly acquired quarterback Jeff Blake knows Benson personally. The 14-year veteran has seen a holdout become a distraction in Philadelphia, where Blake spent last season. The Eagles are struggling to find a solution to the Terrell Owens situation.

Blake chose his words wisely when talking about Benson.

"That's a decision he has to make for himself," Blake said. "Nobody can decide on that but him. He's a grown man. This is his life and it's his career, so he makes a decision on that and can't nobody else do that for him, he has to do that for himself."

There have been reports of a Benson deal being close, but according to team sources the report of a pending agreement is premature.

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