-19-04, 6:55 p.m.
1-20-04, 2:10 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
MOBILE, Ala. _ Anytime you get 32 NFL teams together, rumors start flying like frontrunners in Iowa. On Monday, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis quashed one here at the Senior Bowl when he said the Bengals don't have a trade offer for running back Corey Dillon.
Not from Dallas. Not from Washington. Not, it seems, from anywhere.
He did indicate a timetable, saying such trades are most likely going to happen before the April 24-25 Draft. Lewis said the current Dillon-to-Dallas bolt is just as baseless as the cybershot back in October, which, in part, ignited Dillon's ire.
"Mike (Brown) didn't talk to 'em and I didn't talk him 'em, so it's about like where it was in the fall," Lewis said. "Chances are things move before the draft. Anytime you have a veteran player, a lot of it is going to occur before, but you never know."
It's clear from those close and not close to Dillon that Dallas is his first choice for a trade. But on Tuesday morning as he watched the North practice, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones didn't rule anything in and out with Dillon. He also said it wasn't on the radar yet.
"We haven't sat down and looked at the running game yet. That's something we're going to do this spring," Jones said. "That doesn't mean anything about Dillon one way or the other. That's everybody. I guess you could say we don't have a position on it yet."
Lewis is still playing coy about Dillon, a player that left after the season not expecting or wanting to return. Lewis even used one of Dillon's favorite words to characterize the rumors.
"I don't have to worry about that," said Lewis, when asked if he'd like to resolve the situation before the draft. "Corey has a contract. That's speculation. I find them interesting. I find all this speculation interesting."
One high-ranking club official from the NFC said the Bengals shouldn't have a problem dealing Dillon for a second- or third-round pick because his $3.3 million salary for 2004 is so manageable.
"I don't think they can get a first-rounder, but he's an excellent player. If he says anything negative about it publicly, that would hurt his value," he said.
There can't be a trade until free agency opens, which is tentatively scheduled for March 3.