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Friday, July 18, 2008
Henry and the Bengals could still work

By James Walker
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

 
 Jason Bridge/US Presswire
 The Bengals were 5-3 with Chris Henry last season.

I know what you were thinking when you read the headline. You rolled your eyes. But hear me out.

The Cincinnati Bengals are still a good fit for free-agent receiver Chris Henry.

Wait, don't click on another link! Stop laughing and let me finish.

Thank you.

OK, where was I?

When the Bengals released Henry in April, their hand was forced. It was his fifth arrest in three years. Cincinnati was in the news too often this spring for all the wrong reasons, and Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis became extremely agitated and less tolerant of questionable behavior.

Therefore, the team had little choice but to cut Henry before the judicial system ran its course, even if it did reek of the backward term "guilty until proven innocent." But charges of assault and criminal damaging were eventually dismissed and now the move looks premature.

The Bengals could certainly use Henry. They were 2-6 without him in 2007 and 5-3 with him during the second half of the season. Henry helps take Cincinnati's offense to the next level, and added with receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, new tight end Ben Utecht and quarterback Carson Palmer throwing the ball, they would be a matchup nightmare for any defense in the NFL.

Cincinnati knows Henry's talents better than any other team. Henry already knows the playbook and his role in the offense. He has never been a problem in the Bengals' locker room and gets along well with the players. Both Johnson and Palmer have publicly praised Henry's on-the-field talents, as well.

Henry and agent Marvin Frazier said there has been some preliminary interest from Cincinnati. It may or may not go beyond that point, but when talking to Henry Thursday, he seemed very sincere about the possibility of re-joining his former team.

"I wouldn't mind it happening because I loved playing in Cincinnati," Henry said. "I got real close with all the guys out there and I planned on being out there for a long time. I really had a good time playing ball out there in Ohio."

If the NFL reinstates Henry within the next couple of weeks, the league essentially is giving Henry a clean slate.

What's wrong with the Bengals taking the same approach?