Updated March 22, 2012 @ 4:49 p.m. ET
The Bengals have added a new piece to their offense, agreeing on Wednesday to a three-year deal with RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Financial terms were not announced.
"BenJarvus is a no-nonsense runner who consistently gets the ball down the field, and he has a nose for the endzone," Bengals RB coach Jim Anderson said. "He's also an asset to the passing game, not only as a receiver but as a blocker. More than all that, he's the kind of guy who comes to work hard every day, a great team player and a great addition for us."
Green-Ellis likely will take the starting job from Cedric Benson, who is an unrestricted free agent.
The primary starting running back for the Patriots the past two years, Green-Ellis has gained 2,064 rushing yards in his career on 510 carries for a 4.0-yard average. He's also scored 29 touchdowns and has never fumbled in four NFL seasons, with 536 touches to his credit.
The way we see it
Look for Green-Ellis and Bernard Scott to get the majority of the carries unless a rookie is added. With three picks in the first two rounds, the Bengals have the flexibility to add a well-regarded back early on, but the need is less acute following the addition of Green-Ellis.
Bill Walsh created the West Coast offense, and a prerequisite was a dual-threat running back who could take a short pass — an extension of a handoff — and work his magic. Roger Craig was the first of many to help revolutionize the RB position. Why do I bring this up? BenJarvus Green-Ellis has hands of stone, if you look at his statistics, and is a one-dimensional back — a bad fit in this system, much as Cedric Benson was last year.
In four seasons with the Patriots, Green-Ellis amassed a grand total of 26 receptions, and some will say the Bengals signed a younger version of Benson. That doesn't mean Green-Ellis has no fantasy value, as the AFC North is a physical division with the Ravens and Steelers. Green-Ellis, at 5-11, 215 pounds, should be able to handle it, and he will share touches with Bernard Scott.
Last season Green-Ellis totaled 181-667-11 rushing and 9-159-0 receiving but dealt with a toe injury that hampered him in the second half of the season. He's a TD machine, with 24 the past two seasons combined, and will have a similar role with the Bengals. His career stat line in 53 games is 510-2,064-29 rushing and 26-292-0 receiving — a per-game average of 44.5 yards from scrimmage and 0.55 TDs. More impressive is that he's yet to fumble in the NFL and obviously protects the ball very well.
The team also wants to increase Scott's role, so he'll cut into Green-Ellis' touches, and it may still draft another back. Green-Ellis' value is unknown if that happens, but right now he's best-suited as a flex-position fantasy back on rosters based on his ability to score TDs.