The Bengals took a chance on Cedric Benson during the 2008 season, and he rewarded them with three 1,000-yard seasons and a classy farewell.
Cincinnati signed Patriots free-agent running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis on Wednesday, which officially signaled that the team had moved on from Benson. Reached by the team's official website, Benson said "he was forever grateful" to the Bengals for the part they played in reviving his career.
"There are no hard feelings. I loved my time there," Benson told the team's website. "I can't thank the fans enough for the way they supported me. I'm so forever grateful for the recommendation that I think came out of Chicago and for Marvin [Lewis] believing in me and for the Brown family for giving me a chance."
Parting ways with Benson was long considered a formality for the Bengals. He was upset last season when first-year offensive coordinator Jay Gruden started rotating him with backup Bernard Scott. Benson finished with 273 carries (45 less than the previous season). The Bengals are going with a running back-by-committee this season, and knew Benson wouldn't be a good fit.
Benson was never an elite running back for the Bengals, but he was a consistent grinder for them. Give him the ball and he would give you 1,000 yards rushing and six touchdowns.
What's next for Benson is uncertain right now. There's been very little interest in the 29-year-old back in the first wave of free agency. He will likely have to sign with another team as a backup.
Few thought Benson would achieve the amount of success he had in Cincinnati after being a first-round bust for the Bears. And he made sure he left the Bengals on good terms.