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Did the Bears Make a Mistake Drafting Benson?

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Aug 19, 2005 8:56PM

2005_08_sports_benson_money.jpgChicagoist wonders whether the Bears did enough homework on first round draft pick Cedric Benson before selecting him with the 4th pick in last spring's NFL Draft. While he demonstrated his tremendous talent on the field while at the University of Texas, his recent behavior leads Chicagoist to question whether somebody else may have been a better fit for the Bears.

The Bears training camp ended the other day, and it ended with Benson still down in Texas. While the rest of the Bears were sweating in the August heat during twice daily practices -- getting in shape, meshing as a team -- Benson was sitting on his ass while his agent tried to strong arm additional millions from the Bears.

Other first round picks held out and made it to camp late. But only Benson missed his team's entire training camp. And only Benson remains unsigned among all first round draft picks. Even after the 5th and 3rd picks signed, which should have clarified Benson expectations, he remains unsigned. Some may want to blame agent Eugene Parker, but Parker represented former first round picks Rex Grossman, David Terrell and Tommie Harris. He got Grossman and Harris signed in time for the start of their rookie training camp with suggests Parker can be reasonable. His client, not so much it seems.

Yesterday, Bears GM Jerry Angelo issued a very strongly worded statement that the current offer was the Bears' final offer to Benson. Angelo's statement said,

After missing all of training camp, we want to make it abundantly clear that the Chicago Bears have made their best and final offer to Cedric Benson. No dollars are left on the bargaining table, and at this point the only contract discussions that will be entertained will be reflective of the considerable loss of value to the club created by the player's extended absence.

Not only is Angelo telling Benson to "take it or leave it" but he's further threatening to begin reducing the value of the offer because of how his holdout will set him back. Chicagoist has to agree with Angelo's tactics and only questions why he didn't do this sooner.

The players drafted around Benson signed a while ago. Benson is looking for a deal closer in value to the five-year, $40 million deal ($18.5 million guaranteed) signed by WR Braylon Edwards, the third pick, than the five-year, $31 million contract ($15.1 million guaranteed) signed by RB Cadillac Williams, the fifth pick . Benson has also been using last year's 4th pick, QB Phillip Rivers, as a comparison. However, Rivers was really closer to a #2 pick and there's always a premium paid for QBs.

In the end, Benson's holding out over $1 million or so. But what can he get with that last million that the first $17 mil won't buy? The damage he's doing to his reputation with the fans in Chicago will likely diminish his endorsement value and could end up hurting him more than he could hope to gain from holding out. And history has not been kind to recent Bears holdouts. The most recent players to have gone through extended training camp holdouts were Cade McNown, Rashaan Salaam and Curtis Enis. And how many of them are currently in the NFL? Zero! Maybe those who know they can't cut it in the NFL are the ones who hold out to get their greedy paws on every penny they can before they have to prove anything!