- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Cincinnati Bengals are close to reaching an agreement with free-agent receiver Chris Henry, Henry's agent Marvin Frazier said Monday. Henry is en route from Charlotte, N.C., to Cincinnati to sign a contract with the team as early as Tuesday, a source told ESPN.com.
"We're in talks and we're real close," Frazier said. "I'm just glad they're willing to let the past be the past and give him a chance. I just hope that the Cincinnati fans will give him the same type of chance."
The impending deal was first reported by ESPN.com.
The Bengals refused comment on Henry when contacted Monday night.
"We don't comment on speculated player moves," Cincinnati team spokesman Jack Brennan told ESPN.com. "We only comment when something is done."
Henry, a former Bengal, was released by the team in April after his fifth arrest in three years, this one in connection with an incident said to have taken place March 31. But charges of assault and criminal damaging were later dropped, making him eligible to play in 2008.
Still, the NFL suspended Henry for the first four games of the season.
But the Bengals had shown interest in Henry since the charges were dropped. There was a feeling in Cincinnati that the team might have overreacted in cutting its former third-round draft pick before the judicial system ran its course.
The Bengals have struggled in the past when Henry was not on the field. Last season, the team was 2-6 while Henry served an eight-game suspension and 5-3 in the second half of the season with Henry in the lineup.
Henry has 88 career receptions for 1,370 yards and 17 touchdowns as Cincinnati's No. 3 receiver behind Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Recently, Henry told ESPN.com he vows to stay out of precarious situations if given another chance.
"I'm just focusing on what I need to be doing off the field so I can keep doing what I do on the field," Henry said. "I just have to be smart and handle myself like a professional at all times. Off the field, if I'll handle situations like I'm supposed to, everything else will take care of itself."
Sunday's shoulder injury to Pro Bowl receiver Johnson, in addition to a recent hamstring injury to Houshmandzadeh and a toe injury for rookie Andre Caldwell, might have prompted the urgency to sign Henry this week. Although Henry will not be eligible to play until October, the team needs more capable bodies in practice and for the rest of the preseason.
Frazier said the recent injuries to Johnson and Houshmandzadeh were likely a factor in the renewed interest in Henry.
"I think that's one of the reasons," he said. "But also, the boy can play."
James Walker covers the NFL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.
19hDoug Clawson, ESPN Stats & Information