We’ve been asked several times over the past few days, most recently by Todd Wright of Sporting News Radio, whether it makes sense to use the franchise tag on a kicker, given that kickers can be easily found via free agency. In our view, it does -- but only if there’s no other free agent on the roster who merits the tag. That’s why we don’t fault the Falcons for tagging punter Michael Koenen, and why the Lions would have been wise to use it on kicker Jason Hanson if they hadn’t signed him to a long-term deal. For the Bengals, however, they have other guys whom they need more than kicker Shayne Graham. And we’re not talking about receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. For him, using the tag would have required a one-year salary of $9.884 million (thanks to 2008 cap numbers of $12 million for Marvin Harrison, $10.374 million for Lee Evans, $9.483 million for Bernard Berrian, $9.104 million for Torry Holt, and $8.504 million for Andre Johnson). It would have made much more sense, in our view, to use the tag on running back Cedric Benson. Shunned last year by the Bears after being arrested twice in a month, Benson made the most of his second chance in Cincinnati. He rushed for more than 700 yards in 12 games, and he finished the season with back-to-back 100-plus-yard performances. Making the output even more impressive is that the Bengals spent nearly all of the year with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. Retaining Benson for another season via the franchise tag would have cost $6.621 million, which equates to only 5.4 percent of the team’s 2009 salary limit. Now, Benson becomes one of the top free agent tailbacks available -- and the Bengals would be wise to get him under contract before he lands somewhere else.