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Hobson's Choice: Not yet

Q: Do you think the Bengals would have any interest in recently released Seattle running back Shaun Alexander? Alexander is quoted as saying, "I am healthy, energized and looking forward to beginning the next chapter of my NFL career." With his deep Tri-State roots, I think Alexander may be a nice fit for the Bengals' declining backfield. As always I'm sure this comes with risk vs. reward.
--Gary M., Springdale, OH

GARY: Talked to his agent late Wednesday afternoon and the Bengals had yet to call. They probably won't before the draft, but if they can't find Rudi Johnson insurance in the draft, who knows? Great kid, great career, but even the pride of Boone County High School turns 31 the week before the season and that's a hard sell in any town.

Still, the draft and running backs are a funny thing. If you want a guy that can pound it consistently, the rule of thumb is you must get them before the third round, although Rudi defied that going in the fourth.

But if they feel like they can't walk away from a receiver in the second round (which would be the biggest need if Rudi is healthy), then maybe they would take some time to re-visit a veteran after the draft.

Yet, probably only after they get a look at their own backs on the field in voluntary workouts that begin the first week of May.

Q: Is Marvin Lewis out of his mind? He has offers from three different teams for Chad Johnson, moves that could help the team, and he is so bent on revenge, he hurts the team. If Chad doesn't want to be there, then let him go. This is why Marvin Lewis will be out after this year.
--Dean O., Roanoke, VA

DEAN: No, Marvin and Mike Brown are quite lucid at the moment. They seem to think it's quite ludicrous to trade a potential Hall of Famer for, say, Reggie Nelson and Jonathan Wade. What am I missing?

Now, with the Jared Allen deal done, throw in another first or second-rounder, plus a proven player, and maybe, maybe the talks would begin.

The Redskins offered the 21st pick in this year's draft and a conditional third in 2009. Nelson, a decent safety for the Jaguars, was the 21st pick last year.

Wade a cornerback, was a third-round pick in last year's draft at the spot where the Redskins are picking this year at No. 84. Wade had all of 24 tackles and an interception last season.

These guys are supposed to be exchanged for a guy who has been to the Pro Bowl five straight years? If you ask me, such a lopsided deal would be Chad's revenge.

For what, I don't know. He's had his contract extended twice several years before it was up, which is unheard of, and he plays with a QB in a system that allows him to get 1,400 yards per year. Not exactly serfdom.

OK, so now you trade him and you've got two unproven players and one fewer Pro Bowl receiver for your Pro Bowl quarterback.


And with Allen being traded for a first and two thirds, you've got to come up with a better deal than that because Chad scores touchdowns.

OK, you can make the argument that a trade makes your team better because you get rid of a problem player, even if the exchange is nowhere near fair.

But this is what I don't get. Why does Chad get to call the shots and put the franchise in a miserable position for the next year or two? Where are the team's rights?

Oh yeah, I forgot. Paul Tagliabue gave them away to NFLPA chief Gene Upshaw on the way to retirement in Bar Harbor.

I mean, the guy's got four years left on his deal right?

And don't say it only happens here. Lost in the L'AFFAIRE CHAD headlines were two other stories Wednesday.

This from the Arizona Republic regarding Anquan Boldin, who shares Chad's position and agent:

"Boldin wants a new contract in the neighborhood of (Larry) Fitzgerald's. Boldin's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, recently asked the team if it would be willing to trade his client, according to Cardinals officials. The Cardinals said no, nor do they plan to allow Rosenhaus to seek a trade."

And this from The Chicago Tribune regarding Brian Urlacher's demands because of money:

"You're not going to have one big happy family," (Bears GM Jerry) Angelo said. "You who have kids and raise families understand it doesn't happen in your homes, and it certainly isn't going to happen at Halas Hall when you have 53 kids and we have to make every one of them happy. It's just not reality."

Frankly, the Bengals were out of their minds if they didn't hang up on the Redskins. Hopefully Mike and Marvin told them to come back with Santana Moss on the table and now they can start talking.

You can say it's not reality.

But the reality here is there is no trade. And the clubs in Arizona and Chicago look to be taking a hard line, too.

As for Marvin gone next year, it will happen only if Marvin wants it to happen. I just don't see Mike firing him after '08. A) he'll have two years left on his deal, and B) any time Brown has talked about Lewis publicly it's always with praise and the acknowledgment he's had to deal with an inordinate number of injuries.

*Q: Got an idea regarding defensive scheme. The addition of Zimmer, who is very versatile as far as scheme is concerned, and the addition of FitzGerald, who came from Baltimore, what are the chances that the Bengals adopt a Rex Ryan style system? Odom is a very athletic DE. I remember in his interview that he and the coaches were talking about his ability to drop into coverage. We know Geathers can drop, too. In Baltimore, Coach Fitz turned DEs Jarret Johnson and Terrell Suggs into DE/LB hybrids. Both lined up in both two- and three-point stances.

If we match up player for player with Baltimore, you have:

LB - Bart Scott/Ahmad Brooks

I love this front seven for us. The thing is, who is the other DL? I have been pushing Dorsey, but I think Ellis would be a better fit in this system. He is much more like Gregg in size and power, but Ellis is a better athlete. Rashad Jeanty and Dhani Jones could be the first LBs to back up at ILB and Eric Henderson and Darryl Blackstock will battle to be the first off the bench for the OLB spots. This scheme gets our best players on the field. What do you think?
--Brian, Columbus, OH


BRIAN: This is a very impressive proposal and well thought out. Agreed, there are some similar athletes and the Bengals have some people that should give fans some hope. But the problem, I think, is you can't begin to compare the Front 7s because of the Bengals' extreme lack of experience at linebacker.

A major reason Rex can do so much with his scheme is the experience of his people and it all starts in the middle with Ray Lewis. Since Marvin Lewis took the job, he has had eight different starting middle linebackers while Ray has been the staple in Baltimore.

The lack of consistency has crushed them and the fact that Rashad Jeanty has the most games of any backer in a Bengals uniform with 22 indicates that FitzGerald probably won't be able to use his backers the same way he used them in Baltimore when he was the backers coach.

Indications when Odom signed is that he is pretty much a 4-3 end and that dropping in coverage isn't a major part of his game. Plus, looking at the line, the Bengals don't have anyone near Ngata's sheer brutish 340 pounds.

It is not to say this defense isn't without potential. Geathers and Odom are one of the more intriguing young pass-rushing duos in the league.

And the possibility of Brooks and Thurman playing next to each other gives the Bengals the possibility of a sudden influx of two first-round picks.

But they have also played just a combined 30 NFL games and are simply huge question marks at the moment. Brooks has seven regular-season starts while Ray Lewis has eight postseason starts.

It's an intriguing theory and it does show the Bengals have some nice parts. But they are put together a little bit differently than Baltimore and aren't as polished and developed. That doesn't mean they can't be good, but they will most likely have a different style.

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