Arrest puts Benson's contract status at risk

Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson picked the worst possible time to land in hot water.

Just a week or so before the possible start of free agency, Benson, a pending free agent, might have hurt his stock significantly. Ricky Doyle of YNN is reporting Benson was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with assault on a family member and is being held in Travis County (Texas) jail.

This is not Benson's first run-in with the law, which means he could be facing punishment by the NFL if he's found guilty. Most recently, Benson was arrested for an alleged assault in Austin, Texas, last year but was not suspended by commissioner Roger Goodell. Benson also had issues during his time with the Chicago Bears, leading to his release.

Cincinnati wanted Benson back and was expected to give him a sizable contract extension following back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons. But Benson's latest trouble might force the Bengals to rethink their strategy. If Benson is facing an early season suspension, it wouldn't make sense for Cincinnati to invest big money in the free-agent tailback. Other teams might view Benson the same way.

Benson was the third AFC North player to run afoul of the law in the past week. Bengals teammate Adam Jones was arrested for disorderly conduct and Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward was arrested for driving under the influence. Both Jones and Ward denied any wrongdoing.