BY GEOFF HOBSON - GEORGETOWN, Ky.
There appears to be a timeout in the contract battle with Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon. But the standoff with second-round draft pick Mark Roman has turned into a battle of wills.
Bengals President Mike Brown reiterated today he won't agree to a contract with a player drafted below the first round that contains a voidable year. And he says he won't budge even if Roman sits out the season. He's still upset with himself for giving voids to No. 1 picks Dan Wilkinson and Ki-Jana Carter several years ago.
"We don't have any more cap room," said Brown of the club's rookie salary pool. "They have to accept the deal. If they don't, they can wait until next year. That's their option. They can choose."
Brown calls the concept of voidable years, "silly." It's designed to give players a bigger bonus and bigger first year salary beyond the rookie pool by pro-rating the bonus over a certain number of years, usually five or six. Then the player is allowed to hit an easy incentive (usually play time), and the contract voids the last few years, usually ending in Year Four.
"I think it's a mistake," Brown said. "All you're doing is stealing (salary) cap room from others out into the future. For what? A guy who has proven he can't do anything yet. We're not going to get into that."
Usually teams dole out voids to the second-rounders because a high first-rounder has used up so much of the pool. But Brown was shocked when Atlanta agreed to it this year with their second-rounder even though they didn't have a first-rounder.
Brown says he won't be boxed in by other teams. Roman, the third pick in the second round, can't reach the estimated $800,000 average to slot into the round without a voidable. The first two players in the round void at least the fifth year and the next four after Roman have voidable fifth years.
"Where he was drafted doesn't mean anything because if we didn't take him, he could have gone later in the round," Brown said. "What our guy gets is better than most in the second round. We're not going to get into that even if the guy never comes in at all. He can stay out as long as he wishes, but it's not going to pressure us."
Brown says the Bengals believe Roman is a good prospect, but they say things are moving. They like the looks of rookie free agent Brian Gray as he pushes for the fourth corner job.
**MACK OUT:**Pro Bowl kick returner Tremain Mack took the club by surprise last week when he told the Bengals he had to miss today, Thursday and Friday at camp. Agent David Levine indicated Mack had to return to Texas to finish up some loose ends hanging from previous DUI arrests, but the club wasn't pleased because he could have attended to it during the season. Levine indicated there had been a misunderstanding in paperwork. The Bengals said he would be fined, but whether it's the maximum $5,000 per day isn't known.
** CORNER CLAIM:**The Bengals claimed Carolina running back Sirr Parker off waivers today and then said they would try him at cornerback. The 5-foot-11, 196-pound Parker, who played both receiver and running back at Texas A&M, got cut by the Chargers last year as a rookie free agent before hooking up with the Panthers' practice squad for 16 games.
His position was a matter of debate even before the Bengals moved. NFL contract information lists him as a running back. The NFL Record and Fact Book has him as a receiver.
Jim Lippincott, the club's director of pro/college personnel, said Parker has never played corner and reported he got a long silence on the other end of the phone when he told him where they were going to play him.
"He was fast when we saw him over at the (scouting) combine," Mike Brown said. "Real fast. He's not a big guy and I don't think he's going to play running back in this league. I'm interested in looking at him as a corner because he's got that kind of quickness and acceleration. I don't know if he can do it or not. We'll find out."
**WARRICK BIG WITH PEERS:**In a survey of 254 drafted rookies at last month's NFL rookie symposium, Bengals receiver Peter Warrick was voted the rookie most likely to have the biggest impact in the league this season. Browns defensive end Courtney Brown, the No. 1 pick, and Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington, the No. 2 pick, trailed Warrick, the fourth pick.
MUNOZ HUDDLES WITH PROVIDENT:Bengals Hall of Fame left tackle Anthony Munoz will literally have a big presence at Paul Brown Stadium. Munoz, color analyst on Channel 12's Bengals preseason broadcasts, agreed today to endorse Provident Bank at promotions and events. Provident, official bank of the Bengals and PBS, will have Munoz's image on stadium signage.
** BACKING OFF:**Coach Bruce Coslet is holding true to his word not to beat up veterans and players coming off injuries. During today's double sessions, LT Willie Anderson, C Rich Braham, RB Brandon Bennett, DE Michael Bankston and CB Roosevelt Blackmon took one of the practices off. WRs Darnay Scott (Achilles tendinitis) and Craig Yeast (hamstring) took the afternoon off.