7-19-02, 8:30 a.m.
Updated: 7-20-02, 12:10 a.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
While Brian Simmons and the Bengals wait on each other, both are waiting on Sam Adams.
The Bengals again upped their offer to the Ravens Pro Bowl defensive tackle Friday, but won't get an answer until Adams talks with Denver head coach Mike Shanahan this coming Monday.
It's believed the Bengals have spent this past week tweaking their offer daily so that no team can touch what they are offering Adams in the first year of a three-year deal with a combination of bonus and salary. While Bengals President Mike Brown has no problems with Adams not giving him an answer until early next week, he made it clear Friday the Bengals have gone as far as they're going to go and that they have no desire to negotiate beyond Thursday's opening of training camp.
"I think he knows now he has our best offer," Brown said. "We think it's very competitive because we've got more room under the salary cap than the other interested teams. They can give him money, but it would be money in future years. We can give it to him this year. That's why we think it's such a strong offer, but we're not sure how it's going to go."
Adams prefers a multi-year deal, but Denver and Seattle are in one-year positions when it comes to the cap and depth chart. Still, Adams considers Seattle home and he has reportedly patched things up with head coach Mike Holmgren. Jim Lippincott, the Bengals director of pro/college personnel who has continually upped the offer to agent Eugene Parker, thinks the club has a shot with Adams even though there have been gaps.
Simmons may not be pleased he doesn't have a contract extension yet from the Bengals, but the club's
middle linebacker figures he and the team are winners either way if they can sign Adams.
"If they can sign him and I can get something worked out, that's a big plus for everybody because I can just concentrate on playing," said Simmons, reacting to the pursuit of Adams Thursday from his North Carolina home.
"If they sign him and we can't get it worked out, then that's only going to help me have a better season with him playing in front of me."
Simmons would like a big number in Cincinnati, but is disappointed in the bid to sign him to a contract extension before his fifth and final season on his rookie contract.
"I don't know if they value what I do on the field," Simmons said. "It doesn't look that way because they've had a long time to get this done and it hasn't happened yet. I'm not going to mention names, but they haven't gotten to (numbers) of some of the guys on this team they've signed and they want to sign me for longer."
The Bengals feel they have tendered Simmons and defensive captain Takeo Spikes excellent offers given that they are high-priced, play the same position on the roster, and have another year left on their deals. They insist they hold Simmons in the highest regard. As they do his running mate at linebacker and the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft in Spikes, also looking at an extension.
"We've signed our other guys to market deals and that's what we want to do with Brian," said Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn Thursday. "We've got a lot of respect for him as a player and a guy. He always plays hard and is great to have on the team. There's no question about that."
Simmons isn't excited about some of the comparisons the Bengals have made with other players who have signed recent deals (such as the Vikings' Kailee Wong), but his main concern is that he doesn't think he's looking at the same numbers the Bengals think they're showing him.
For instance, the Bengals think the Steelers' Joey Porter is a good comparison with Simmons because even though he's an outside linebacker, he is a key part of the Pittsburgh scheme and his $3.7 million per year extension came when he was still under contract.
Simmons indicated he doesn't think the Bengals have reached that level yet in their proposals. But he's not going to let it affect him when he lines up next Friday for the first practice.
And he wouldn't rule out extending the talks past next week, although Simmons and agent Jerrold Colton would no doubt like to see more movement before they start negotiating after training camp starts.
"The team isn't putting any kind of deadline on it," Blackburn said. "We want to keep the dialogue open and flexible. We know no matter if it gets done before camp or not, Brian is going to approach football the way he always has."
Simmons made that pretty clear Thursday.
"I'd like to get it done, but I'm just sitting back," Simmons said. "I'm going to go ball out no matter what and play hard like I always do. There'll be no difference."
Whether Adams is in front of him or not should be decided early next week.
"I would call the talks amicable," Lippincott reiterated Friday.