BY GEOFF HOBSON
With miles separating the sides on a long-term deal, the Bengals sounded out his agent on a one-year contract today. Katie Blackburn, the club's executive vice president, said agent Marvin Demoff told her he would get back to her Monday, which means Dillon will officially miss the first four days of training camp that begins Friday morning.
In a move that has to lift Dillon's spirits, the Bengals lost their franchise tag in the Carl Pickens' settlement for free agency after this season. That means the only way the Bengals can restrict Dillon is by using a transition tag, in which the Bengals can match an offer but can't receive compensation if they don't.
Some argue that helps Dillon follow through on his threat to sit out the first 10 games, not coming in until the last six games to get his service time for free agency. They say he could sit and then get a big deal that they figure the Bengals won't match because they've hesitated this time around on paying him elite back money. But Bengals President Mike Brown said it's not a lock this is Dillon's last year in Cincinnati if there's no long-term deal.
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"There's a long time between now and then," Brown said. "Things change. He could have a totally different outlook if the team does well. We've tried on a two-year deal that his agent recommended and that was rejected. We tried a long-term deal where we hit his magic number of $5 million per year. Now we're going to try a one-year deal."
Even though the franchise tag is no longer over Dillon's head. Brown said it makes no sense to sit out the first 10 games because of the money he'll lose. The Bengals have said they would keep open the possibility of raising a one-year offer back to the restricted free agent tender of $1.37 million. How that will play for a guy who wants $10 million in bonus and salary in the first year of a long-term deal is unclear.
Demoff couldn't be reached for comment Thursday, but it's obvious the gulf is wide on a long-term deal. Dillon's people probably didn't like the Bengals' $5 million per year offer for six years because that includes incentives and the $5 million bonus is to be paid in six yearly installments.
But Brown is hopeful he can get his back back even though Dillon has balked at enough offers to make people wonder if he really wants to play here.
"Holdouts don't help either side," he said.
RACKERS AGREES: **The training camp kicking derby between veteran Doug Pelfrey and rookie Neil Rackers is on. Rackers, a sixth-round pick out of Illinois, agreed to terms late Thursday night when the Bengals do what they normally don't do and agreed to give a late drafted rookie an incentive. If he scores at least 110 points, he'll get bumped to the range of Paul Edinger, the Bears kicker taken five spots behind Rackers. That's not a lock if he beats out Pelfrey. The last time Pelfrey scored 110 was 1996.
With players reporting this morning, only second-rounder Mark Roman and third-rounder Ron Dugans are expected not to show. The Bengals are trying to do a straight deal with Roman without giving him a voidable year, but all the players drafted around Roman have one. Dugans is still balking at "The Carl Pickens Clause," but has agreed on money.
SCOTT ARRESTED: **Wide receiver Darnay Scott was expected for the first meeting of training camp at 1 p.m. today after getting released from jail. He was arrested Thursday night at his Florence, Ky. home on a theft by deception charge. Scott told wide receivers coach Steve Mooshagian that it was a misunderstanding over a check and he plans to take care of it.
"The Bengals take this matter seriously, but it would not be appropriate for the club to take any action at this time," said team spokesman Jack Brennan. "The issue at present is only a charge. If action is warranted when the issue is resolved in the courts, the club will respond at that point."