Hobson's Choice: Issue of values

Mr. Hobson, Now that the Raider's have given Lamont Jordan that incredibly ridiculous deal for 27.5 million over 5 years, doesn't that mean that the Benngals are going to have to ante up if they want to keep Rudi?

I mean Jordan has like 1,200 career rushing yards and Rudi has over 2,000. And don't you think that if teams start throwing around that type of money for players who have only mediocre stats or have only been starters for a year that the whole salary structure is going to get out of hand. It use to be that you reward the players who have produced for you over the years and now it seems that teams are rewarding players depending on how desperate they are at a particular position?

Also, are the Bengals going to be going after some defensive help to get them over the hump that seems to be preventing them from going to the playoffs? Thanks, Roger M.; Dayton. Ohio

i happen to disagree with your artical marvin has not done on thing in f/a that has improved this club one bit. you will mention tj but he was here last year. i am very disappointed at the lack of f/a that have been brought in , besides trotter the rest are crap and not worth signing anyway. bring in some guys that will help like bell,simmons k.carter

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ROGER M. and BELL:** As agent Peter Schaffer said in the 3/4/05 story on Bengals.com comparing Jordan and Johnson, "The issue is what is Rudi's value and there haven't been many new running back deals recently. We hope this shows the Bengals and the fans that Rudi is simply looking for a fair-market deal." But, as you have indicated, not everybody agrees on what is fair-market value.

Schaffer, no doubt, would argue that Jordan has pretty much set the current market for running backs. Maybe you and the Bengals would argue that just because one team panicked and gave big money to a back that never started a NFL game, why should you consider that the fair market and take the gouge out of us?

But the Jordan contract is the Jordan contract and it obviously impacts Rudi's deal. That is what free agency does.

The Bengals, simply, have to make a decision. Four years ago, they gave a two-time Pro Bowl running back with four 1,000-yard seasons and three 200-yard games in Corey Dillon a five-year, $25 million deal. If they didn't want to give Johnson that because he has yet to accomplish those things, the Jordan deal may have them re-thinking it. But they may also be hesitant to pull the trigger on a mega long-term deal as long as they have second-year Chris Perry around.

It, quite literally, is a question of values.

You can complain all you want about bad contracts and how they shove the pay scale all out of whack. But if everyone else is doing it, how else do you compete?

This is why the Bengals think they are between a rock and a hard place. They feel the size of the market (they've been around No. 27 in revenues) dictates that they go year by year on the salary cap and that they stay away from those big-lump-sum –signing-bonus-pro-rated-by-the-years deals that have hurt teams in future cap years.

But, they have also realized in the last few years that they have to do some of it to stay afloat on the field or die, like they did in '98-'02. In the last few years, particularly with their own players (Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson as well as free-agents John Thornton and Kevin Hardy) they have done deals they wouldn't have dreamed of in the early years of free agency but that have been a major factor in getting them back to .500.

As for this year's market, yeah, they're not being very active but they're doing what they said they would and that's keep the offense together by making sure Rudi and wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh are back for at least '05.

They don't have a lot of money left under the cap (the way they do the cap year-by-year), and the main reason it is so tight in '05 is that Rudi and Houshmandzadeh are tying up $9 million in cap room of what has to be considered their free-agent money.

They may be at the point where if they sign a player, they'll have to cut one. You've stated that you don't think it's a real bumper crop of free agents and that no one is worth signing, so why get upset?

I think if they could pick off Dolphins defensive lineman Bryan Robinson, they could go home for the rest of free agency a success. They are certainly emphasizing defense in their initial inquiries, and Robinason and Trotter were two of ther first three visits.

Steelers inside linebacker Kendrell Bell is a fine player, but the Kansas City Star reported he flunked the Giants' physical, most likely because of a groin injury.

They've already got some money in their starting defensive ends, so apparently they weren't prepared to drop another five years on 32-year-old Kevin Carter, which Miami did Monday. If you mean Anthony Simmons, they've already got a weak-side backer named Simmons who is going to count about $3 million against the cap this year.

If there is anybody out there (besides Robinson) that they just absolutely have to have right now, tell me who they are. If not, then maybe they should wait for the prices to go down.

Trotter is another guy I would have cut some people in order to throw some money. The Bengals looked to have had the same idea. But it sounds like it wouldn't have helped, because he was going back to Philly from the start. The Chiefs had that sense when they couldn't finish off a deal Thursday night while he was sitting in Kansas City.

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