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Hobson's Choice: A couple of names

Q: Is there any chance the Bengals will try to pick up Dave Ragone or Big Daddy Wilkinson?
**--Russ, Cincinnati, OH

RUSS:** If the Texans have made it official and have whacked Ragone, the Bengals may have already made a call on him. But don't look for them to father a reunion with Big Daddy. That appears far fetched after already adding a veteran defensive tackle in Sam Adams.

But Ragone would look to be a good fit. He's a Cleveland guy (played at prep power St. Ignatius), went on to Louisville, and the Bengals certainly know the phone number of his agent David Dunn, the representative of Carson Palmer, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and third-rounder Frostee Rucker. Dunn couldn't be reached for comment Monday.

The Bengals liked Ragone coming out of the 'Ville, but that was 2003, the same year they drafted Palmer No. 1. He went to the Texans in the third round, where he has thrown just 50 NFL passes as David Carr's backup and none in the past two seasons.

But he led Berlin to the World Bowl title last year in NFL Europe, and he would seem to fit the blueprint the Bengals seek for a guy to eventually be No. 2 to Palmer.

They wouldn't be looking for him to do that this year because they clearly went out and got Anthony Wright and Doug Johnson this offseason because they have several NFL starts under their belts.

Ragone does not, but instead of drafting a quarterback in the third or fourth round in the next year or two and developing him, they would have a first-day talent in Ragone who already has three years of NFL experience. But if anything happens with the Bengals, it probably won't happen until later in the week after the NFL owners' meeting.

But why would they pursue Wilkinson? He clearly has matured since they drafted him No. 1 overall in '94, but they already got their veteran D-tackle in Adams, a Pro Bowler that could cost as much as $4 million under the salary cap this year. He's also three months older than Adams, who turns 33 next month.

With Bryan Robinson (who is 32 himself in June) looking more and more like he'll play both end and tackle, that means only four tackles are probably going to make it. So after Adams, Robinson John Thornton, and fourth-rounder Domata Peko, the young and talented Shaun Smith is already going to have to grind for a spot, and Wilkinson just makes them too long in the tooth there. Plus, head coach Marvin Lewis has yet to show interest. He and Wilkinson were together in Washington in 2002, but when Lewis went to Cincinnati and Wilkinson became a free agent the next year, the Bengals held talks with Thornton and Adams.

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