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Busy Bengals invite defense, QB


The Bengals lined up on defense Friday when they filled all next week with visits from the NFL's top defensive tackles on the club's busiest first day of free agency ever.

Sandwiched between Ted Washington's stop Monday and Cincinnati product Dana Stubblefield's homecoming next Friday are visits from Jason Ferguson of the Jets and Tony Williams of the Vikings.

The Bengals also secured visits for early next week from Broncos quarterback Gus Frerotte and Seahawks quarterback Jon Kitna, according to their agents.

Frerotte, 29, has played much of his career as a backup and spent the past two seasons in Detroit and Denver.

But he's got 57 touchdown passes in 52 starts in seven years and has a knack for the big pass, which has been hugely lacking in the Bengals offense.

Frerotte has two touchdown passes of more than 70 yards and last year in place of the injured Brian Griese he averaged 7.6 yards per attempt. That was only behind Oakland's Rich Gannon and the Colts' Peyton Manning in the AFC.

"All Gus wants is a chance to compete for the job and he was interested when he heard the Bengals opened up the competition," said Ralph Cindrich, the agent who also represents former Bengals quarterback Jeff Blake.

"He started asking me some questions I couldn't answer," Cindrich said. "So I told him if he was interested, he should go up and visit and find out. And he will."

Kitna's agent, Carl Lopez, said the Bengals are his client's top choice with one of the reasons his relationship with offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski. Kitna, 28, broke into the pros when Bratkowski was Seattle's offensive coordinator from 1995-98.

"Seattle has left the door open, but I don't see him going back there," Lopez said.

Jimmy Sexton, the agent for Ferguson and Williams, said his clients have an open mind about coming to a team that has struggled for the past decade.

But while the Bengals flurried, business was the slowest it's ever been on the first day of NFL free agency.

"No one is sure what the market is and there's no money out there for teams to spend," Sexton said.

The 6-2, 315-pound Stubblefield is an intriguing story. Stubblefield, a former first-round pick out of Taylor High School and Kansas, was a victim of the Redskins' purge to get under the salary cap.

The Bengals flipped on film Thursday and liked what they saw from a player who doesn't turn 31 until November.

But will Stubblefield like them? His agent, Neil Cornrich, sees his client as this year's Sam Adams.


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` Adams is the defensive tackle who was the victim of changes in Seattle last year and turned out to be a key signing in Baltimore's run to the Super Bowl.

"That's where we think Dana can be," Cornrich said. "A Pro Bowl and Super Bowl."

Asked if that would take the Bengals out of the mix, Cornrich said, "Dana thinks it's an honor to be able to visit and be considered for playing back in his hometown."

With center Rich Braham unsigned, also headed to town to visit is Bears backup center Casey Wiegmann. Wiegmann, 25, started the last eight games for the Bears this past season and has Bengals' ties`.

He played at Iowa with right guard Mike Goff and knows offensive line coach Paul Alexander from the scouting trail.

Agent Rick Smith said Wiegmann is also scheduled to visit Detroit and Kansas City. `

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