BY GEOFF HOBSON
Right tackle Willie Anderson says he is honored the Bengals have approached him about extending his contract a year before it ends, yet he fears the team doesn't have the resources to keep him. But the club is still highly motivated to make a deal with him and spent part of today running numbers to take into Monday morning's negotiations.
"It was all very positive, but I was also disappointed they didn't come up with numbers that were like, 'Here, sign this,' " said Anderson today, after spending much of Thursday in negotiations. "I was thinking this could be 'The Last Dance.' But make sure you write this. I understand they have other players to sign. This has been very professional, I'd like to be a Bengal and we haven't cut off talking."
The Bengals see it as far from "The Last Dance." In fact, they're getting ready to try another step Monday. Katie Blackburn, the Bengals lead negotiator, is studying the Bengals' salary cap in 2001 and 2002 to see what the club can do.
Anderson wouldn't divulge the club's offer or what he wants, but he indicated the Bengals were close to the six-year, $30.5 million deal Titans right tackle Jon Runyan signed in Philadelphia. A $5 million per year average would be higher than the franchise tag for offensive linemen, which is the average of the five highest paid players at that position.
Anderson said it isn't so much Runyan's deal that concerns him, but what his value would be on the market next season since people in the club have told him he's better than Runyan. He's also keeping an eye on Ravens left tackle Jonathan Ogden's possible extension. The Bengals are finding a tight squeeze under this year's salary cap because they are also trying to re-sign Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon.
But Terry Bolar, Anderson's agent, and Blackburn remained upbeat about future talks.