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Bengals, Adams still talking

7-16-02, 6:45 p.m. Updated:
7-17-02, 7:45 p.m.


In an effort to add one of the NFL's premier run stoppers to their ninth-ranked defense, the Bengals continue to hang in the Sam Adams derby.

But as the Bengals tried to hammer out a deal Wednesday, Adams' hometown Seattle Seahawks surfaced in the hunt for the Pro Bowl defensive tackle they took with the eighth pick in the 1994 NFL Draft.

A source close to the situation said Wednesday evening that Adams has met with Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren and mended fences that were broken when Holmgren sent Adams packing into free agency before the 2000 season. Adams considers Seattle his home and those close to him say he would love to return to his first team if the money is right. Wherever he goes, word is he wants to make a decision by Friday.

But while Seattle is interested in Adams primarily because of the knee injury expected to take John Randle out of the preseason, it isn't known how far they will go to beef up the center of a defense that lost middle linebacker Levon Kirkland earlier this month.

And it isn't known if the Seahawks are willing to best the Bengals' three-year offer that the club tweaked Wednesday in negotiations with agent Eugene Parker. According to reports, Seattle has about $2 million less to spend under the salary cap than the Bengals.

Jim Lippincott, director of pro/college personnel for the Bengals, spent an intense day Wednesday with Parker over the phone. Lippincott said the main stumbling block is structure of

the deal, with items such as signing bonus at issue.

"We're going to keep at it," Lippincott said. "We'd like to get him here. We think he's a fine player. We're still talking structure and total dollars."

Lippincott and Parker have been talking since Tuesday, when Adams was reportedly disappointed he left Cincinnati without a deal. He had planned to head back to Seattle on a late afternoon flight and mull the Bengals' offer. But when Parker and Lippincott began talking, Adams decided to stick around a few more hours and grab dinner with defensive line coach Tim Krumrie before taking a later flight.

"I think the visit went well for Sam and the Bengals," Parker told Tuesday. "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, but both sides are trying to focus on the long term.

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 the Raiders have some interest.

Lippincott hasn't divulged 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 has made it clear he isn't a "bargain basement," player, either. He did have a sore knee in Baltimore last year, but the fact he would be in a rotation with Oliver Gibson and Tony Williams cushions the Bengals' concern about play time.

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 cap shrinkage with Spikes and Simmons.

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