Bengals ponder Jackson, Dillon

BY GEOFF HOBSON

The agent for former Steelers and Chargers left tackle John Jackson has been in contact with two teams other than the Bengals, but talks with his hometown team probably won't heat up until after the Fourth of July. Meanwhile, Bengals President Mike Brown continues to believe they can get a deal with running back Corey Dillon even though the disgruntled Pro Bowler continues to threaten to sit out the first 10 games and his agent thinks the relationship is close to irreparable.

Richard Katz, Jackson's agent, touched base with the Bengals today and they agreed to talk next week. But the club is taking things cautiously. They may be leery giving Jackson $1 million because they want to keep enough room under the salary cap to sign Dillon. Plus, there is concern about Jackson's age (35) and the fact he would be backing up a player (Rod Jones) that they just signed to a three-year, $9 million deal. Nowadays, veteran backups are making closer to the minimum $440,000.

Katz wouldn't rule out the Super Bowl champion Rams as an interested party. Right tackle Fred Miller left via free agency, forcing the Rams to match the Dolphins' hefty offer sheet that gave Ryan Tucker a $4 million signing bonus even though he's never made one NFL start.

When asked if Dillon would play the final six games, Brown said, " I see no reason why we wouldn't want to play him. But we aren't at that point yet. In my own mind, I don't think that's how this will play out. I think rational solutions should be the answer and that is not a rational solution. Not only for the club, but for the player. It doesn't make any sense why you would want to earn $1 million less and be in the same position at the end."

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Brown referred to the one-year, $1.37 million tender offer agent Marvin Demoff urged Dillon to sign. He'll earn about only $250,000 if he sits those 10 games. Dillon needs to report for those six games to get his fourth year in the league so he can become an unrestricted free agent, when the Bengals figure to designate him the franchise player and restrict his rights.

Demoff is expected to talk again with the Bengals after the Fourth of July and Brown hopes it goes differently than the June 12-13 talks.

"We did make a long-term offer, but I can't tell you we got a counter offer from them," said Brown of the Bengals' $4.3 million per year proposal for five seasons. Dillon has been saying he wants $5 million per year and Brown said, "I'm not saying they would have got it if they had (asked), but they never came out and said this is what they want."

Dillon and Demoff are trying to push a trade, but Brown said there have been no inquiries for Dillon or wide receiver Carl Pickens since the draft.

Finan tours stadium:Richard Finan became president of the Ohio Senate with a little help from his friends up north. So Finan, an early backer of Paul Brown Stadium, isn't going to say which of Ohio's NFL teams has the best facility. But after this morning's tour, the Republican from Evendale couldn't hide his satisfaction.

"Interior-wise, it's very similar," said Finan of the comparison with Cleveland Browns Stadium. "But exterior-wise, this has more pizzazz. I really like the canopies over the stadium and the way it fits in with the skyline. That's what is going to become the signature. It's very unique when you look at it because of the way it's asymmetrical.

"I can just see people going down to the river and shooting pictures back through the stadium to downtown," Finan said. "It's another Carew Tower. It just verifies what we said it would be. It's just the beginning. At the end of this, we're going to have a riverfront to die for."

Finan envisions private enterprise coming to the river to finish off what government began when Hamilton County voters approved a half-cent sales tax to build stadiums for the Bengals and Reds four years ago. He believes the stadiums, along with the underground railroad museum, will help make Cincinnati a vacation destination much like Cleveland.

"The shops, the restaurants, they will come," Finan said. "As this thing develops, businesses will see what an opportunity they have with an office or condominium. I think you'll have private enterprise taking over."

Finan has particular interest in the Fort Washington Way renovation, since the bulk of the state's contribution to the project is going to infrastructure.

"This is a classic case where the private sector drove the public to do what the government should have been doing," Finan said. "Fort Washington Way badly needed to be improved, but it never would have been so high on the priority list if the stadiums weren't here. It's one of the most complicated highway projects in the country. Plus, we've reclaimed a significant amount of real esate that can also be used for many other things."

There might be loose ends on Aug. 19, but Finan thinks the opener against the Bears in an exhibition game is feasible.

"The biggest problem might be parking and some access over the bridges," Finan said. "But you look to be in good shape. Maybe there'll be some paint and wallpaper, but you can get through that."

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