7-16-02, 6:45 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
As Sam Adams prepared to leave Cincinnati Tuesday, his agent began negotiations with the Bengals in a bid to bring the Ravens' Pro Bowl defensive tackle to the NFL's ninth-ranked defense.
Adams had planned to head back to Seattle on a late afternoon flight and mull the Bengals' offer. But when agent Eugene Parker began talking with Jim Lippincott, the Bengals director of pro/college personnel, Adams decided to stick around a few more hours and grab dinner with defensive line coach Tim Krumrie before taking a later flight.
At the end of business Tuesday there was still enough of a gap that it looked like a deal wouldn't get done by the time Adams left. But Parker thinks his client will "seriously consider," the Bengals.
"I think the visit went well for Sam and the Bengals," Parker told ESPN.com. There seems to be mutual interest, but we're just starting to talk (about contract numbers), so it's still very early. But Sam liked what he saw. I think he will seriously consider the Bengals, but he wants a day or two to think about things."
The Bengals are willing to do a one-year deal and have discussed that option with Parker. Adams said he has no other trips scheduled, but that he has received several calls. Word out of Denver is the Broncos are unlikely to sign Adams, but Seattle is
apparently again interested in the Seahawks' 1994 first-round draft pick because of an injury to John Randle.
"These things are complicated and take time," Lippincott said. "We're talking about a lot of issues. Structure and different length. We would prefer a longer deal and so would he, but right now I would just say the talks are ongoing."
Lippincott wouldn't divulge the specifics of the Bengals' offer, but the lines are pretty well drawn this late in free agency.
With 10 days before the start of training camp, the Bengals hope to get one of the league's top run defenders at a good price. Adams, on the other hand, wants compensation that takes into consideration a fine eight-year career in which he was a key part of the Ravens' record-breaking defense during their Super Bowl run in 2000. He may not still be seeking that reported $8 million bonus, but he made it clear he isn't a "bargain basement," player, either.
Adams also made it clear during his visit to Paul Brown Stadium he has other possible options in Denver, Oakland and Seattle. But after lunching with head coach Dick LeBeau and reviewing his role in a rotation with tackles Oliver Gibson and Tony Williams, the 6-3, 330-pound Adams also made it clear he's satisfied with the fit.
"I'm looking to come in and contribute on the field and in the community," Adams said. "This is an up-and-coming team."
As the Takeo Spikes-Brian Simmons negotiations move slowly, Bengals President Mike Brown indicated Tuesday he's looking to make a deal with Adams even if it prevents getting one of those contract extensions before the start of training camp.
"If we do something, it depletes the cap room," Brown said of the NFL salary cap. "We only have so much cap, but we aren't going to stand by and just do nothing. We're going to try and help make the team better somewhere. We haven't moved the ball far down the field (in the linebacker negotiations)."
Both the agent for Simmons and the Bengals said Tuesday that the sides aren't close. Jerrold Colton said, "we are quite a distance apart," and Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn said the Simmons negotiations "aren't moving in the direction," of getting done before training camp.
Todd France, Spikes' agent, said he plans to counter the Bengals' proposal at the beginning of next week, when he'll get a feel for how quickly a deal can get done. Unlike Colton, France said he's willing to continue talks into the season.
"We obviously don't want to distract Takeo, but we also want to continue a dialogue and keep the lines of communication open," France said. "The goal is to keep Takeo in Cincinnati. He wants to stay and play there."
Blackburn talked with Colton as recently as late Tuesday afternoon and both remain optimistic something can get worked out with Simmons before Colton's deadline of the July 25 opening of camp. After that, he reiterated Tuesday that he won't engage in negotiations until after the season.
"Our conversations have been productive, but we are still quite a distance apart," Colton said. "Most of what we have done up to now is discuss our differences in philosophy and viewpoint and we've trying to bridge those differences."
Part of the problem, Colton said, is the comparisons the Bengals have drawn to players like Steelers outside linebacker Joey Porter. Porter recently signed an extension averaging $3.7 million per year with a $5 million bonus and like Simmons, Porter is not yet an unrestricted free agent and is one of the most important players on his defense.
"But Brian is a pretty unique and versatile player with his speed," Colton said. "Porter could be a key in some defenses around the league, like the Steelers, but I would argue that Brian is the kind of player who can fit into all of the NFL's 32 schemes."
Colton said he'll keep at it, but, "Time is shrinking,".
The Bengals room under the cap expanded to about $2.5-$3 million for veterans in the Michael Westbrook-Darnay Scott trade, but the Bengals are fighting shrinkage with Spikes and Simmons.
Time is also closing on Adams as he seeks a job in time for training camp.
"I'm looking for a home, not a pit stop," said Adams after getting into town Monday night. "There are some places you don't fit in, but after meeting some people, I definitely think I do here. I thought that last year when I watched them play. It's an excellent defense."
He said, "it all gets back to money in the end," but he also said there are other considerations and the Bengals flashed some Monday night.
Adams met with Krumrie and defensive end Justin Smith, as well as renewed his acquaintance with Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski. Bratkowski had the same job with Seattle when Adams was with the Seahawks from 1994-99.
It is not lost on Adams that at 29 years young, he would become a budding defense's first Pro Bowler off his 2000 selection. He's intrigued with a rotation of himself, Gibson, and Williams in the middle.
"This is a very talented line. I like the way Gib plays. I've been watching him," Adams said. "The line coach is a guy who played and he likes to go to war with his players. I'd love to play with these guys."
Adams said he could live with a role in which he would share time with two other high-profile tackles.
"I'm looking to do what is needed," Adams said. "If that means being in a rotation or not in a rotation, whatever. I'm looking to be on the field and contribute."
Adams has already been on the horn checking out the Bengals. He has chatted with quarterback Jon Kitna, another former Seahawk, about how a family that includes three children would find Cincinnati.
"Kit and his family love it here," Adams said.