Dillon-Booker

By GEOFF HOBSON **

Bengals Make New Offer to Dillon

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With the NFL Draft gone and minicamp days away, the Bengals hope Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon is focused on getting a long-term deal done and have sent his agent a new contract proposal. Club vice president Paul H. Brown also spoke with Dillon on the phone Monday night in an effort to secure the beginning of negotiations.

The club wouldn't divulge the offer and by the close of business today the Bengals had not heard from agent Marvin Demoff.

Dillon, a three-time 1,000-yard runner, has made no bones about seeking at least the $5 million per year deal signed by James Stewart, a player who has not rushed for 1,000 in any of his five seasons. But the Bengals argue Stewart was an unrestricted free agent. Dillon's run as a restricted free agent ended April 10 with no offers.

Dillon has threatened to sit out the first 10 games of the season, but the Bengals hope he's ready to negotiate long-term with the draft completed.

"The ball's pretty much in their court and we hope they agree to meet," said Bengals President Mike Brown. "We are the only option they have. All the other possibilities that might have existed when Corey was a restricted free agent, and maybe a trade could have been done before the draft, are gone. We want him back."

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BOOKER BACK HOME:

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New defensive end Vaughn Booker drove to Spinney Field today from his home in Indianapolis and couldn't help but notice how close he came to his boyhood home on Ezzard Charles Drive.

"I probably almost drove right by my old apartment on the way in here," said Booker, a free agent out of Green Bay. "It was a strange feeling, but it was good. It's the reason I signed here. For my family."

Booker, only the third Bengal ever to also play his prep ball in the city (Taft High School) as well as at the University of Cincinnati, came in a few days before minicamp to get adjusted to defensive line coach Tim Krumrie and the Bengals' 4-3 scheme. Booker and John Copeland are the starting ends, with Booker getting the nod on the tight end side.

The early work also let Booker catch up with Tom Barndt, a defensive tackle who came over from Kansas City and spent time with Booker on the Chiefs' front.

"He started out on offense, but he did such a good job on the scout team against our defense that they moved him over," Booker said.

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BUSH SIGNS:

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Tight end Steve Bush, a restricted free agent, signed a one-year deal for $472,000 today.

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TICKET TALK:

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Tickets for the club's 10 games at Paul Brown Stadium this season go on sale to the public May 10. Fans can order tickets for single games or multiple games of their choice. Half-Packs (5 games) are also available May 10 and offer better seat locations in each of the open zones. Tickets can be ordered at 513-621-8383 or on the Tickets/Schedule section of our web site.

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