8/3/00 - BY GEOFF HOBSON - ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.
In an effort to end the Corey Dillon crisis, the Bengals have informed him he will be ineligible for the first three games of the regular season without pay if he doesn't agree to a contract by the final preseason game on Aug. 25.
Calling on the "Five Day Rule," the Bengals invoked their right in the collective bargaining agreement that pertains only to restricted free agents. If Dillon doesn't agree by the second preseason game on Aug. 11 in Atlanta, he'll miss the regular-season opener.
If he's not in by the Paul Brown Stadium opener on Aug. 19, he's also out the second regular season game. Dillon has threatened to sit out the first 10 games.
The Bengals embittered another Pro Bowl running back Harold Green by doing the same thing in 1993. But Dillon took the news in stride tonight.
"If they're fair with me, I'll be on the next plane," Dillon said from Seattle. "I just want to be treated fairly. The five-day rule doesn't mean anything to me because I'm ready to sit out the first ten games and not get paid."
Bengals President Mike Brown said he wants an answer from Dillon soon so the club can make plans under the salary cap. He also wants to avoid a Carl Pickens situation in which Pickens signed three days before last year's regular season as an unrestricted free agent and never got into shape.
"It's time to call the shot," Brown said. "We've got to have an answer from Corey. Players who miss training camp historically have had problems getting ready, especially for a running back who needs to get his legs ready."
Asked if he was in shape, Dillon said, "When have you seen me not in shape? I could roll out of bed and go for 200 (yards) tomorrow."
Katie Blackburn, Bengals executive vice president, said, "We aren't looking to make Corey upset. We only want to speed it up so he'll get here and play. It's a provision in the CBA to prevent players doing from what Corey is doing, but we're only doing it because we'd like to get him in sooner rather than later."
Dillon indicated he still thinks Stephen Davis money $3.5 million per year is fair.....
Continued from Frontpage
The Dillon move comes after a seven hour meeting Wednesday with the agent for second-rounder Mark Roman at Georgetown College. But, the Bengals could not secure a deal with the LSU cornerback by the time they left this afternoon for Buffalo and Friday's preseason opener.
A deal apparently snagged this morning and no agreement with Roman is imminent.
As Blackburn and Paul Brown left the meeting with Roman agent Joel Segal Wednesday night, they emphasized there was no deal and that they hoped there were more talks before Segal headed back to New York today.
But the club did say progress was made. The sides are apparently talking about a straight four-year deal instead of a contract containing a voidable year. If Roman is to get near the approximate $800,000 annual average that the players drafted around him have received without the voidable concept, the Bengals would have to offer an incentive package.
"It's not the amount of money," Paul Brown said. "It's how it's earned and how it's paid."
Segal had no comment.
Dillon agent Marvin Demoff told the Bengals Wednesday he planned to speak with his client before talking with the club. Demoff told them he was pleased to read Dillon's comments on bengals.com earlier in the week that indicated he would be happy to come in and play this season if the money was right.
The Bengals still have no comment on Dillon's desire for a one-year deal for $3.5 million, the tender for a running back designated a franchise free agent. The Bengals said that kind of money wasn't mentioned Wednesday and that the club has generally discussed with Demoff a one-year deal slightly more than the $1.37 million tender for restricted free agents.
Blackburn said the season-ending broken leg suffered by leading receiver Darnay Scott hasn't made getting Dillon into camp any more urgent. Without Dillon and Scott, past 1,000-yard performers, the NFL total yardage for the Bengals healthy running backs and wide receivers is 1,049 yards.
"Obviously Darnay being out would have hurt us even if Corey was here," Blackburn said. "That's not going to change one way or the other. I have faith in (rookie receivers Peter and Ron) Warrick and Dugans. It hurts losing Darnay, but we may be able to do well anyway. And we want Corey here, too."
Coach Bruce Coslet also said it wasn't "more urgent," to get Dillon in now, but he also said, "it's been urgent for awhile. We keep calling and making offers. That's why we're continuing to talk to his agent so we can work something out."
But Coslet isn't counting on him. Asked if he saw any light at the end of the tunnel, Coslet said, "No. I wish I can tell you, "Yes,' but I can't."