4-27-01, 3:20 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Bengals began negotiations with Dolphins left tackle Richmond Webb Friday, but did end up closing a deal for an offensive lineman.
Right guard Mike Goff, who along with right tackle Willie Anderson was the only lineman to start every game last season, agreed to a three-year contract Friday afternoon.
Goff, 25, a third-round draft pick in 1998 headed to free agency after this season, gave up 2.5 sacks while leading the offense with 991 of a possible 1,001 snaps.
He came into last year's training camp backing up right guard Brian DeMarco, but the Bengals cut DeMarco and promoted Goff on the eve of the regular season. Goff struggled early in the season, but improved enough to earn the extension.
"I got surprised early in the season and I wasn't playing the way I know I can play," Goff said. "I was
hesitant. But by the end of the year, I wasn't getting surprised. The fact I go into this year knowing exactly where I am should help me get better."
Goff was scheduled to make the minimum $418,000 salary this year, but re-negotiated an undisclosed raise for the 2001 season along with a two-year extension.
"We've been pleased with Mike's progress every year he has been in the system," said scout Duke Tobin after doing the deal with agent Ken Kremer. "He gives us a big smart guy who we feel is becoming a stable and consistent NFL right guard."
When Webb landed from his trip to Cincinnati 11 p.m. Thursday, he immediately phoned agent Steve Zucker and told him he wanted to play for the Bengals.
Zucker's last deal with Cincinnati was Carl Pickens' ill-fated five-year, $22.3 million contract on the eve of the 1999 season. But neither side is holding it against the other.
"Richmond was very impressed with the facilities and the way (head coach) Dick LeBeau handled himself with him," Zucker said. "We talked and we've agreed that it's a great fit for him and it's a team that should be ready to win with all their talented skill players."
Zucker talked only generalities with the club Friday and planned to give the Bengals some numbers at the beginning of next week.
"There is interest from other teams, but I only work one team at a time," Zucker said. "I don't like to use teams against each other. It's the Bengals' turn at-bat and we'll see how they swing."
No doubt there will be some change of speeds. There will most likely be a gap at the start because Webb, 34, a seven-time Pro Bowler, made $4 million last year. The Bengals already have a former Pro Bowl left tackle in John Jackson and he signed a two-year deal back in January that can max out at $1.7 million.
Jackson, 36, hampered by hamstring problems last year, said he has strengthened his legs during the offseason and is prepared take plenty of snaps.
"They can put me in there with anybody they want," said Jackson of the effort to sign Webb. "I can work with anyone."