4-30-02, 5:30 p.m.
Updated: 4-30-02, 9:00 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
Gus Frerotte continued to mull offers from the Bengals and Broncos Tuesday night with both teams looking to have him in the fold by this weekend's minicamp.
The Bengals indicated Tuesday night they are now talking to agent Marvin Demoff about a "short-term," arrangement rather than the three-year deal proposed initially, and they are prepared to pay Frerotte more than the $750,000 Jeff Blake got in Baltimore for one year to back up Chris Redman. But the key to what appears to be a one-year deal seems to be the incentives and how much they are willing to pay Frerotte if he does or doesn't unseat Jon Kitna as the starter.
The Bengals say they are crafting incentives that will reward Frerotte if he is the starter and it's those milestones that are no doubt at the crux of the negotiations.
MR. LEYVA GOES TO WASHINGTON: Backup guard Victor Leyva won't be at Friday night's opening of Bengals minicamp. But he's got a pretty good excuse.
Instead of meeting with head coach Dick LeBeau, he'll be meeting with another head man when President George Bush hosts the Cinco de Mayo reception at the White House.
"It just blew me away when I got the invitation," Leyva said Tuesday.
"I've never been to Washington. The closest I came was last year's rookie symposium, but I've never been on a tour to see any of the history."
He'll be up close and personal when Bush and the First Lady open the East Room Friday afternoon for an event that recognizes Mexican Independence. Some other NFL players invited are 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia and Rams safety Adam Archuleta, as well as assistant coaches and personnel people.
Leyva is the second Bengal in the past year to be feted at the White House. Hall-of-Famer Anthony Munoz and his wife attended a state dinner last fall. Leyva, a fifth-round draft pick last season out of Arizona State, was born in Mexico and grew up in Porterville, Calif.
Leyva's former college linemate, first-round draft choice Levi Jones, is expected to work out at minicamp despite being unsigned.
MCGEE, COSLET REUNION: Tight end Tony McGee may not be getting up for those 5:30 a.m. workouts like some of his new teammates. But he's telling key Cowboys that their new offense is a sleeping giant.
McGee sat down with the man himself last week to work out a three-year deal with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, banking a $400,000 signing bonus in a three-year deal that begins with the $650,000 minimum this year. He worked out a 15-catch incentive for an extra $150,000 that can jack his '02 take near the $1.3 million he would have received from the Bengals this season if they hadn't released him last Thursday.
Former Bengals head coach and current Dallas offensive coordinator Bruce Coslet, the reason McGee is a Cowboy, approved of the negotiations.
"Knowing Tony, he's got the
first dollar he ever made," Coslet joked. "It's refreshing to see a guy sit down and do his own deal. That's one of the reasons we went after him. He's a smart, reliable guy who takes care of himself in the offseason."
McGee told Emmitt Smith how he watched Corey Dillon rush for four straight 1,000-yard seasons out of Coslet's playbook. He told Joey Galloway he saw the X wide receiver, Carl Pickens, catch 199 balls in back-to-back seasons out of the offense Coslet has brought to Valley Ranch.
"Bruce is like his old self again," McGee said Monday night from Dallas. "You know how it is. He's got some of that sass. It's like with me. Anytime you've been doing something for a long time and you get to do it in a new place, that kind of picks you up a little bit."
For years McGee got ripped for his ability to drop the easiest of balls. But no one ever said he backed off a block, or was unprepared, or played at less than half speed. Which is why Coslet brought him to Texas as he installs his system.
Ironically, the Cowboys personnel department knew all about McGee for the last two months. When the scouts asked Coslet what kind of tight end he wanted in free agency and what he wanted out of the position, Coslet put together a tape of McGee and free-agents Stephen Alexander and Ken Dilger.
"Alexander wasn't what we really wanted, Dilger ended up going to Tampa Bay, but we didn't expect Tony to end up on the waiver wire and he did," Coslet said. "He's the kind of blocker we want. I can see why the Bengals did what they did because they've got two good young ones, but we had to do this when we didn't draft one (early)."
McGee, 31 and coming off arthroscopic knee surgery, can run routes. But the Cowboys backed him off team drills at last weekend's minicamp and this week's quarterback school until he is 100 percent. So he's taking time to help a tight end corps that has a sixth-round draft pick and two guys (Mike Lucky and Jeff Robinson) who combined for 24 catches last season. Robinson, the former Ram, is most likely McGee's backup as a long snapper.
"You just can't underestimate how important it is to go to some place that already has the same system you've been in," McGee said. "I mean, I feel like a rookie again. I don't know where anything is. I don't know where I am. I'm just sitting here in the hotel studying. But I know the playbook and that's a big advantage."
Smith, 540 yards shy of the NFL's all-time rushing record, is most likely going to pass Walter Payton on one of the plays Dillon ran to break Payton's single-game rushing record.
"Yeah, Emmitt is one of those 5:30 a.m. guys," McGee said. "I'll get up early to get my workouts in, but I don't know if I'll be able to ever get up that early. I told Emmitt Corey consistently got a lot of yards out of these schemes."
McGee has plenty of time to learn his way around. He has to be at Valley Ranch at least four days a week to rehab.
"If Bruce doesn't throw me the ball, I guess I won't be happy," McGee joked. "But things are working out great right now."