7-22-02, 9:45 p.m.
Updated: 7-23-02, 7:25 p.m.
Updated: 7-23-02, 10:30 p.m.
Updated: 7-24-02, 12:10 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Bengals have been told that Pro Bowl defensive tackle Sam Adams won't sign with any team immediately as he waits for better numbers and that he'll take a week or so to re-check the landscape.
Later Wednesday the Bengals signed fourth-round draft pick Travis Dorsch, a punter/kicker from Purdue, to a three-year deal. That leaves their top two picks unsigned before Thursday's check-in at training camp.
Jim Lippincott, the Bengals director of football operations, spoke with agent Eugene Parker Wednesday morning and told him to keep in touch when he does decide to do a deal.
"Eugene said he wasn't really happy with any of the offers and he's going to wait to see what happens," Lippincott said. "I told him to let us know and we'll see what level he's at and we'll see if we're at a level."
The Bengals framed a one-year proposal for Adams Tuesday to go along with their three-year offer that has been reported at about $9 million with $3 million in the first year between salary and bonus. ESPN.com reported Tuesday night that the Bengals were no longer a candidate and that Denver and Seattle weer seen as the leaders with their one-year deals. But the word is Adams is holding off on a decision because of Baltimore's renewed interest. Yet the strapped-cap Ravens can't do anything with Adams until they work a deal with one of their Pro Bowl linebackers in Ray Lewis or Peter Boulware.
"I think his resolve has been tested this week, people wanting to see if he'll crack, and he's probably more determined than ever not to sign a contract he doesn't believe is a reasonable one," Parker told ESPN.com. "At this point, there is nothing imminent. Nothing even close."
With his client expected to speak with Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan Monday or Tuesday, Parker had told the Bengals that Adams was still mulling Cincinnati's offer.
The Bengals are also trying to get deals with their top two draft picks in left tackle Levi Jones and free safety Lamont Thompson, respectively, before Friday's first practice. But the league-wide inertia at signing first-rounders and the unproductive talks with Thompson's agent make their attendance Friday a longshot.
Middle linebacker Brian Simmons will be at Georgetown College Friday and agent Jerrold Colton left open the possibility he might ease the July 26 deadline on negotiations for a contract extension.
"It's not a hard and fast deadline, but I still think it's the best thing for Brian," Colton said. "But obviously, if we are having good discussions and we're close, I'm not going to cut off the dialogue. We're still not close."
Muddying the Adams' picture were reports out of Denver Monday night that keep reiterating the Broncos have no interest in him. But on Tuesday, a league source said the Broncos are in the thick of it even though Shanahan has already signed one fairly high-profile free-agent defensive tackle in Lional Dalton and just had to re-structure the
contract of quarterback Brian Griese to make room under the salary cap for the club's draft choices.
The Seahawks are also formidable competition. Although Seattle can't offer him as much as the Bengals, the Seahawks are in his adopted hometown.
The Bengals are trying to adopt Jones and Thompson, but the going is slow. Only five first-rounders, none near Jones' 10th slot, have been signed. Ken Zuckerman, Jones' agent, said Monday that is probably as good as reason as any why Jones isn't done yet. Besides No. 1 pick David Carr and No. 2 pick Julius Peppers, only Nos. 21-23 in the round are signed.
"It helps having other deals done around you," Zuckerman said. "I think both teams and the agents are hesitant in doing a deal when there isn't much around you to base it on ."
Jones most likely will end up with a five-year contract paying him a bonus in the range of $6 million. But those are about the only knowns. The unknowns range from how that bonus will be paid out to when a deal will be finalized.
"I'm always an optimist," said Zuckerman, when asked if Jones will be at camp Friday. "I do know that both sides are working hard at it and have been for awhile. Levi would love to be there when it starts, but he also wants a good deal. He's a very committed person. This is the deal he's going to have for five years. He's not the kind of guy who's going to sign it and then after the fourth year come in looking to re-do."
Mike Sullivan, Thompson's agent, has been busy. After getting a deal for Stanford safety Tank Williams with the Titans Monday night, six of his 10 draft picks are now signed and two more are expected to get done in the next few days. Sullivan wouldn't divulge numbers, but the Williams' deal expects to have an impact because he was picked four spots after Thompson.
Yet asked if he expects Thompson to be signed by Friday, Sullivan said, "I'm not optimistic."
Colton is holding out hope something can get done with Simmons because, "It's obvious that both sides want to get a deal and that has been a favorable atmosphere."
But the talks have been dogged by philosophical differences.
"There are two main issues that have us at odds," Colton said. "The first is who to compare Brian to in the market and second is the allocation of dollars per year."
The Bengals were prepared to give wide receiver Darnay Scott about $1.5 million per year if he had showed an inclination to re-negotiate his $3 million bonus and salary for 2002. But on Monday, he signed what is believed to be a one-year deal worth the $650,000 minimum salary with Jacksonville two weeks after the Bengals cut him.
"I'm going to make some people mad," said Scott Monday when asked about the Jags' Dec. 15 game at Paul Brown Stadium this upcoming season.
"People wanted to know why I got cut and I heard people saying it was because I couldn't do what I used to be able to do. Well, I'm not like that. It's all about playing ball and that's what I want to show people down here. That I can still play. I want to make some people mad."