Dillon, agents split in peace

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Corey Dillon and agents David Levine and Jim Sims wished each other well Friday, but the Bengals Pro Bowl running back remains on track to hire a new agent.

Dillon continues to say he's unaware of any eight-year, $60 million deal the agents say he turned down last month.

And it looks like the Bengals' old friend, Leigh Steinberg, is the new man. That's according to Fred Edelstein's Pro Football Insider.

Steinberg, who has represented four of the club's last nine No. 1 picks, couldn't be reached for comment. Dillon had no comment.

"I've got nothing against those guys," Dillon said Friday of Levine and Sims. "They worked hard. They're skilled. They're very capable. But I've made this decision and I want to go in a different direction. I wish them the best."

The agents reiterated Friday that they told Dillon of the $60 million package that would make him the richest running back in the NFL with a $12 million signing bonus and $19.5 million in the first three years.

"It would be ludicrous not to communicate a proposal to our client that would make him the highest paid running back in the NFL and one of highest paid players in the NFL," the agents said.

But Dillon continues to insist to the people around him that he can't remember such a deal brought to him.

The agents said the framework was discussed with Dillon Dec. 15 in a Paul Brown Stadium conference room. But they weren't terminated until several weeks later and before the numbers went public this week.

"We advised Corey it was a very strong offer and he should consider accepting it," the agents said.

"He decided to terminate us when we said the Bengals offer was strong. That was in conflict with his desire to enter free agency. Therefore, we wish Corey well in the future."

Dillon won't divulge the name of his new agent. The Bengals aren't commenting.

But the club did say last month after it failed to get Dillon signed as well as center Rich Braham, left guard Matt O'Dwyer, and left tackle John Jackson at the end of the season, that they would turn to other players to use up their '00 salary cap room.

They turned to another Levine client, defensive tackle Oliver Gibson, and gave him a four-year extension worth about $3 million per year with a $4 million bonus.

But in the new year, deals have to begin with the '01 cap, so it's not known how that would change a new Dillon deal.

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