BY GEOFF HOBSON
A second Bengals' rookie deal has snagged because of the club's "Carl Pickens Clause," in which players can be fined a portion or all of his signing bonus for criticizing the team. Steve Weinberg, the agent for fifth-round pick Robert Bean, said Monday his client won't sign a deal with such language. The fourth-round pick, Curtis Keaton, has also agreed to numbers but his agent is balking at a clause the NFL Players Association says violates the collective bargainning agreement.
The Bengals continue to stand by the clause and argue there is no violation. Weinberg is upset that the clause isn't in first-round pick Peter Warrick's contract and that the Bengals' fear of criticism is already covered in their previous contracts in which a one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team could mean forfeiture of a signing bonus.
But the club wonders why it would have to lose an important player for a game in order to be entitled to some of the bonus. As for the clause not being in Warrick's contract, Bengals President Mike Brown said, "We did it with (right tackle) Willie (Anderson) and have decided to do it with the guys we're talking too now. We have to start at some point." **
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Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon has ripped the club on Seattle radio during the offseason, but he can't be fined because he's not under contract. He became the first Bengal to speak out against the clause during a break in Monday's negotiations.
"That invades my constitutional right," Dillon said. "I should be able to say whatever I want to say and express myself in the way that I feel. I don't know where they came with that idea. There's always something new when I come down here, but I wouldn't sign anything like that."
Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn said she has reworked the clause in an effort, "to make it cleaner and less open-ended. I still think there's nothing to object to because we're just asking them to do something they should do anyway."