Cedric, we hardly knew ye in Chicago. I’d like to be able to say fine-I’m glad he’s gone. But I’m not. I would have loved to be proven wrong for hating the pick 30 seconds after they made it in 2005, but I was right, along with I’m sure thousands of other Bears fans who didn’t like the pick. But let me tell you, I’m getting sick of blown Bears first round picks on quarterbacks and running backs. I’d be happy if the Bears never spent another first-rounder on a quarterback or running back ever again.
Cedric Benson, this is your NFL life:
Benson rushed for 5,540 yards in a four-year career at Texas. Most notably, he never missed significant time despite carrying the load for the Longhorns.
He was ranked the #1 back in the 2005 draft at one point. But character concerns (arrests for marijuana possession and criminal trespass) scared some teams off. Auburn’s Ronnie Brown was selected with the second overall pick, then the Bears took Benson fourth overall, the highest pick the team had made since selecting Dan Hampton in 1979.
Other backs selected after Benson in the ’05 draft include Cadillac Williams, Marion Barber, Frank Gore, Brandon Jacobs.
While being interviewed just following Chicago’s selection of Benson, the new Bear cried, claiming that the pre-draft evaluation process was unfair.
Benson became the final 2005 draft pick to sign a contract, holding out 35 days into training camp, threatening to not play for the Bears and re-enter the draft. The contract Benson signed was worth $18 million guaranteed and close to $35 million total.
Shortly after reporting to the team, Benson declared that he would take the starting running back position from veteran Thomas Jones. The comment didn’t endear him to his teammates.
Despite being known for never missing any significant playing time at Texas, Benson was injured against the 49ers in his rookie season when his knee was twisted terribly. What looked like a very damaging injury only kept him out several weeks.
At training camp in 2006, he injured his ribs at practice, missing time in the preseason. He was then accused of leaving a game early before his teammates, violating team rules. His running adequately spelled Jones in the stretch run of the playoffs and helped launch the Bears to Super Bowl 41. But in the biggest game of his life, Benson fumbled and injured his knee on the same play, unable to return to the game.
In February 2007, the Bears traded Jones for next to nothing in order to pave the way for Benson as the starter.
The new starter looked overweight, lethargic, and as he didn’t care for much of the 2007 season. Against Denver, Benson broke his ankle and would miss the rest of the season.
Following the 2007 season, Benson was declared the starter over second-round pick Matt Forte, then was arrested twice in the span of 5 weeks.
Three seasons. 1,593 yards and a 3.8 average. 10 touchdowns. $18 million McCaskey dollars paid. $1.8 million per touchdown.
Good riddance. Something I never thought I’d be able to say: Benson is a bigger bust than Curtis Enis or Rashaan Salaam. Hope he wears that distinction with pride.