Bengals make $3M run at Dillon

BY GEOFF HOBSON - GEORGETOWN, Ky

The Bengals apparently made today an all-out effort to get Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon into training camp by Thursday.

Cbssportsline.com is reporting the Bengals have offered Dillon a one-year deal for $3.05 million, more than double the $1.37 million tender worthy of Dillon's restricted free agent status.

Club president Mike Brown, citing a news blackout on the Dillon contract until later in the week, had no comment.

Dillon, looking for the franchise player number of $3.5 million, has yet to accept the deal. If he's not signed by Thursday, he'll miss the Sept. 10 regular-season opener.

The Bengals'offer is about $25,000 shy of the one-year deal for a running back designated a transition free agent, a status Dillon won't reach until after the season.

The run at Dillon came after the clock literally struck near midnight and the Bengals reached a four-year agreement with second-round pick Mark Roman, ending the longest holdout by an NFL rookie not drafted in the first round. Roman, a cornerback from LSU, arrived here just in time for lunch and signed the contract before hoping to practice in the afternoon here at Georgetown College.

"I'm relieved," Roman said early this morning. "I'm happy to be going to camp. I'm excited. Yeah, I'm satisfied with the deal. I just wanted what's fair."

The Bengals and agent Joel Segal had been stalemated on Roman's deal over a variety of issues, but they verbally agreed on a contract near midnight. When Segal arrived here this morning to sign the contract, he said the key items were getting the $1.34 million dollar signing bonus all in one lump sum and yearly salary bumps to get the four-year average to $780,000.

When Segal opted for the minimuns in years two through four, that meant an extra $275,000 because of the annual increases. According to figures on cbssportsline.com, Roman also has about $200,000 in roster bonuses.

Both player and agent were pleased.

"Roman had ice in his veins," Segal said. "We were able to negotiate fairly to at least get a shot at what we wanted and that's what we ultimately got."

Those were the elements that got the sides beyond a voidable year and a straight four-year deal in Roman's range. Negotiations were complicated by Segal's request early on for a deal with voidable years because he represented other second-rounders who got them. But the Bengals didn't bend on not giving voidables to players not drafted in the first round.

Segal will file a letter of protest with the contract that objects to "The Carl Pickens Clause," in which the Bengals place loyalty language from the collective bargaining agreement into the signing bonus.

Roman said the surprising play of fifth-round pick Robert Bean and free-agent rookie Brian Gray at cornerback didn't have a bearing on his decision to come in.

"I don't read the periodicals and I don't go on-line reading everything," Roman said. "If they're playing well, that's good. But I'm just worried about going and playing hard."

Roman was greeted warmly in the cafeteria this afternoon by Brown, head coach Bruce Coslet and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. Segal was grateful for the reception and Roman said he holds no grudges.

"That really didn't surprise me, but I'm glad I got the warm welcome," Roman said. "My job is to play football. My agent is the one who took the strains of the whole process."

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