Bengals release Webb

2-20-03, 12:00 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

INDIANAPOLIS _ The Bengals, who have come to town looking for versatile offensive linemen at the NFL scouting combine, released their backup tackle Thursday when they terminated the contract of Richmond Webb.

Agent Steve Zucker said the move came as no surprise because he never expected the club to pay him the scheduled $4 million this season, the last of a three-year contract. Although Webb turned 36 last month and is coming off a season-ending torn pectoral muscle, Zucker said his client wants to continue to play.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said he wants to leave open the option of

re-negotiating with Webb to back up last year's No. 1 pick at left tackle, Levi Jones.

"Richmond has done some great things in the league and he's the kind of guy you want to have in your locker room," Lewis said. "See how things work out in the future. There may be an opportunity to possibly sign him back if that's something he would like to do and it works out great for us. It gives us a veteran guy with a great temperament."

Webb, a future Hall of Fame candidate, signed with the Bengals after seven Pro Bowl seasons protecting Dan Marino's blindside at left tackle in Miami. After the Bengals allowed 52 sacks in 2000, Webb was a major reason they allowed their fourth fewest sacks ever (28) the following year.

Webb began last season knowing Jones would take his spot at some point during the year. The moment came sooner rather than later when Webb tore the muscle in the fourth game of last season against Tampa Bay and missed the rest of the year. With backup tackle Jamain Stephens a free agent, the Bengals are in the market for a third tackle to play behind Jones and right tackle Willie Anderson.

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