BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Bengals locked up one of their unsigned starters Thursday and went hard after another as the clock ticked to 12:01 a.m. Friday and the start of the NFL's free agency period.
The agent for left guard Matt O'Dwyer said he has agreed in principle to a three-year deal that appears to be in the $4.5 million range.
Mark Bartelstein said O'Dwyer is expected to sign late Thursday afternoon. The Bengals won't comment until the contract is signed.
The Bengals also agreed in principle with backup running back Brandon Bennett to a three-year deal.
The club is also trying to get a deal with quarterback Scott Mitchell before he goes on the market Friday.
"Matt made it clear to us that he didn't want to bounce around from team to team," Bartelstein said. "He's happy in Cincinnati with the coaches and the town and feels comfortable in the system."
O'Dwyer, who turns 29 the week before the season, signed as a free agent from the Jets two years after New York took him in the second round of the 1995 NFL Draft.
O'Dwyer missed the last five games with a broken ankle in 2000, but the Bengals see him as a solid, dependable player who had started 74 of a possible 75 games before the injury against New England.