By GEOFF HOBSON
Coslet to Dillon: Come in and talk
After watching the Bengals dole out $72 million to Peter Warrick and Willie Anderson the past 10 days following face-to-face negotiations, coach Bruce Coslet had a message for Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon.
"I encourage him to bring (agent) Marvin Demoff into town, sit across the table and get the damn thing done," said Coslet, who has watched it all happen at Spinney Field as he heads into his 24th season with the Bengals. "It works. I've seen it work. I've been here a long time and that's how you get things done."
Demoff is scheduled to negotiate at Spinney June 12 and he and the Bengals hope Dillon decides to come along.
Drafted by Paul Brown, hired by Paul Brown, Coslet today called on one of Paul Brown's more famous expressions when it came to talking personnel. Asked how important Dillon is in the mix, Coslet said, "Everyone is needed, but no one is necessary. That's not meant to be derogatory in any type of way. It just happens unless you come in and have good faith negotiations, nothing is going to get done. I hope that happens. I hope he comes in and talks and arrives at a deal. If we can't arrive at a deal, then we know. I would venture to say if that would happen, something would get done."
Bengals President Mike Brown indicated he would be glad to sit down with Dillon if the player wanted to talk. But he also made it clear he's out of the negotiating business and that the Dillon talks would be like the Anderson and Warrick discussions. With his children driving the negotiations.
Brown's son, Bengals vice president Paul H. Brown, wasn't involved with Anderson and Warrick but he's the main negotiator in the Dillon deal and will be the club spokesman. Katie Blackburn, Mike Brown's daughter and executive vice president who did the Anderson and Warrick deals, will be crunching numbers with chief financial officer Bill Scanlon in the Dillon talks. Mike Brown joked at today's Warrick news conference while praising Blackburn and agents Jim Gould and Norm Nixon, "They're the ones who did the negotiations. I was not involved. . .Maybe that's why it got done so quickly and easily, but I'm happy about the result."
Mike Brown is also happy Blackburn is now doing what he did for his father for more than 25 years. But Blackburn, 34, has been doing the big deals for years now and is slowly showing to agents her father isn't orchestrating her movements from behind a curtain.
After joining the Bengals shortly after her grandfather's death in 1991, Blackburn has been involved in the contract talks of the first-round picks. It reached a point last year during the thorny Akili Smith negotiations that agents Leigh Steinberg and Jeff Moorad wanted Mike Brown to get involved.
"I just told them, 'You have to talk to me,' " Blackburn said. "Sometimes (agents) want to talk to him, but I think that's more a negotiating ploy. It's not like he's in the dark. I think he should be aware of what's going on. I have the ability to say, 'yes,' or 'no,' (to a deal)."
All eyes will be on her and her brother when Demoff comes to town June 12. Coslet bristled when asked if the Bengals would be as good without Dillon.
"That's a stupid question," Coslet said. "I mean, would our (offensive) line be as good without Willie? You could play without Willie, but we signed him."
WHAT OF LEWIS, O'DWYER?:
Mike Brown was pleased to hear the news that the murder charge against Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was dropped. But he said he assumed the NFL would look into a possible suspension, noting that Bengals guard Matt O'Dwyer has been suspended by commissioner Paul Tagliabue for two games after his arrest in a bar fight. O'Dwyer allegedly kicked out the window of a police cruiser.
"Matt O'Dwyer, in most eyes, was a far lesser offense," Brown said.
Will it be strange if when the Bengals play in Baltimore Sept. 24, O'Dwyer is returning for his first game and Lewis hasn't missed a beat? Brown is still trying to find out if O'Dwyer's suspension can be served in the Sept. 3 bye week, or if he must miss games Sept. 10-17.