Bengals keep busy

BY GEOFF HOBSON

The Bengals front office had a busy day today in sending another contract proposal to right tackle Willie Anderson and setting up their first negotiation with first-round draft pick Peter Warrick.

Terry Bolar, Anderson's agent, said the new offer is "progress," but that he's not ready to make a deal yet.

"It's a significant offer," said Katie Blackburn, the Bengals' lead negotiator. "We think it meets the concerns Willie and Terry expressed when we talked last week."

Neither side is talking specifics, but Anderson indicated the total $30.5 million package over six years Philadelphia gave Titans right tackle Jon Runyan on the free-agent market was comparable to the Bengals' initial offer. Money early in the contract was the key issue in the Runyan deal Between bonuses and salary, Runyan gets $10 million this year, a figure not lost on Bolar.

"Of course the upfront money is important," Bolar said. "We're talking about everything, but the money in the first year is something you really have to look at. We're not really looking at Runyan. We're looking at market value knowing what Willie could get on the market next year."

Warrick's agents, Jim Gould and Norm Nixon, called Blackburn today and agreed to start talks next week over the phone from Nixon's California office. Gould figures the first talks happen May 17.

"We didn't talk specifics, just that we would talk and when," said Gould from his Cincinnati office. "There's no reason not to get started so Peter can get into camp and adjusted to life here."

Gould said the agents don't plan to wait for the market to form and hold off on talking until deals with players drafted near Warrick at No. 4 get done first.

"We're not worried about what other people do," Gould said. "We'll do what's best for our client."

The Bengals are well acquainted with the numbers of last year's fourth pick in the draft, the spot behind Smith. Running back Edgerrin James got a seven-year deal that voided to six with play time. As Blackburn did with Smith, James had escalators tied to minimum salaries.

By the close of business Monday, there had been no change in the Corey Dillon talks.

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