BY GEOFF HOBSON
After a productive morning session, the Bengals closed ever nearer to a deal with first round draft pick Peter Warrick that could come as soon as Sunday.
Jim Gould, one of Warrick's agents, said today the sides have agreed on numbers. He said the sides would talk this afternoon, but he didn't expect a deal until his partner, Norm Nixon, returns from New York.
"It is not done yet." Gould said. "But we are 95 percent done. We've agreed on the numbers. What is left is stucture and language. If it keeps going like it is, I think we can close the gap. We were really going south last night, but we had a very good converstion this morning."
Gould said there are no plans yet to fly Warrick into Cincinnati. But if things go well Sunday, there could be a Monday Press conference. "But we haven't got that far yet." Gould said.
It looked like on Friday night just one or two issues separated the sides.That was after a marathon negotiating session that ended at 10 p.m.
"We made tremendous progress yesterday. We made tremendous progress today, but it's still not done," Gould said. "It's close, but it could be tomorrow. It could be Sunday. It could be Monday. It could be two weeks from now.
"We have some issues left," Gould said. "There's still a lot of love, but even brothers and sisters break apart at times. We're at a point where we're looking at the same thing, but one is calling it green and the other is calling it blue. We called it off at a good time."
Gould and Nixon spent eight hours on the speakerphone with Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn and Bengals chief financial officer Bill Scanlon Friday after a five-and-half hour session Thursday. Thursday's talks went so well that the sides thought they could finish up the smaller details Friday over the phone. But both parties were surprised Friday's session stretched long past dinner.
"We made a fair amount of progress from where we were yesterday (Thursday)," Blackburn said. "We're pretty close, but we're not there yet. It's not 100 percent done."
Gould acknowledged today's session was more intense and detail-filled than Thursday's meeting. But he refused to discuss specifics: "It's too volatile. At least right now. Tonight. But I think we can work it out."
The sides plan to talk Saturday before Nixon's flight to New York. Nixon is expected back Saturday night, so the talks don't figure to be delayed. Logistics could also be at play when it comes to an announcement. Warrick isn't expected in Cincinnati until June 12 because his agents want him to work as many days as he can on his 30-day community service stemming from last fall's petty theft charge.
"When this is announced, we want Peter in Cincinnati for it," Gould said. "But there are only certain days he can make it because he's got a schedule."