Hobson's Choice: Bengals not alone

Why does Mike Brown and Bengals management find it necessary to wait until the last minute to start signing their high draft picks? Didn't the Bengals learn anything from last season with Chris Perry? Granted Carson Palmer was a rare, a VERY rare exception in Bengaldom.

In particular why does the Bengals mgmt. find it imperative to have all the other surrounding drafted players signed and "slotted" before they begin serious negotiations?? This idea of being passive, waiting-to-see-what-other-teams-do, react rather than act boldly and decisively, is the EXACT pitiful atitude that has been killing the Bengals for 20 years now. It's so fricking obvious but they NEVER seem to get it.

If every team was like the Bengals no rookies would ever get signed, as everyone would just sit there waiting for someone to make the first move. If the Benglas drafted these guys (Pollack and Thurman) to be first team starters and valuable members of the "new and improved" defense then why don't they take the first step for a change, show them that they are wanted, and get them into camp on time.

These guys can not afford to miss even one day of training camp if the Bengals are serious about this revamped defense being anything near playoff quality.

I know you can't print this because of it's negative overtones but there are lots of long-time Benglas fans who feel just like I do.
** Dan

DAN:**
At times, I have some of the same gripes about not taking the initiative. But the agents do it, too and I think it's wrong to paint the Bengals as a team on an island when it comes to this stuff. And I think it's wrong to underestimate the team's ability to get big deals done since Katie Blackburn has become the lead negotiator because, for the most part, she, Mike, and her staff have been pro-active and willing to do things the Bengals never did.

Don't just sluff off the Palmer deal. It's not that easy. Look at how San Diego mucked around with Philip Rivers the very next year. The Chargers were calling the Bengals for an outline early in that one and it didn't get done, so it's not automatic.

Let's look at it since 2000. Warrick, Levi Jones (2002) and Palmer (2003) were in on time. Justin Smith (2001) and Perry (2004) weren't. OK, it was ugly. They tried, but it didn't happen. Yet, the Bengals aren't the only team that has been the victims of holdouts by Smith agent Jim Steiner and Perry agent Eugene Parker.

The next year, 2002, Steiner client Bryant McKinnie held out until November in Minnesota. That's no knock on Steiner, but it shows the Bengals aren't the only ones that had to tussle with him. And watch out this summer for Parker client Cedric Benson in Chicago, and I like Parker because, like Steiner, they go head first. Still. . .

"You're frustrated and you're disappointed,'' said Bears GM Jerry Angelo this week in the Chicago papers. "We made him a very lucrative, attractive offer [before camp began]. I think we made it very clear to (Parker) when we talked to him in our last conversation. He felt our frustration and disappointment. I'm not saying that through you. We said it directly to him."

How about Cedric Benson learning from Chris Perry?

And when Akili Smith held out in '99 for three weeks, the same agent Leigh Steinberg held out Edgerrin James in Indianapolis. The Bengals have always sworn Smith took pretty much the same deal they offered three weeks before.

When you're in one town and following one team, you tend to get that Gilligan complex. I do it all the time. But as of this posting, the Nos. 2-22 picks in the first round haven't signed their player, either. The Bengals made an offer early to David Pollack (and all the other picks), but agents know they could get sued for malpractice if they took an early deal that turned out to be below market and they didn't wait for the slot. That's how agents get clients for the next year. How much did they get over the slot from the year before?

Believe me, it takes two to tango. The agents wait as much as the teams and maybe more and, again, no knock on them because it's the way of the industry. They're working, too.

Here's a quote over the wire from the agent for the 15th pick, Kansas City's Derrick Johnson: "There's nothing to talk about," Vann McElroy said. "We haven't even talked the past couple of days. These things take a life of their own when you get close to the reporting date. I'm hoping we'll get something done. Certainly our desire is to get him in on time."

Yeah, do every once in awhile I wish the Bengals would forget the low ball, come in high and hard, and get it done quickly? Yeah, but it's not my money, it's a two-way street, and it doesn't just happen here.

I agree. They can't stand long holdouts by both Pollack and Thurman. The coaches have made such a commitment to get off to that elusive fast start, it would be a shame to see it dealt a blow right in the first few days with the two guys that really need to practice not practicing.

But I also realize that Blackburn is trying to build a salary cap for the future. It's a puzzle. They're already thinking about when to approach last year's rookies about extensions. Two years? Three years? And what about Willie? Chad? Carson Palmer has to probably get re-done next year to make some room. So they just can't go off half-cocked, either, and sign a big number just to get it done.

Are they perfect? No. Can they be tough and exasperating at times? Sure. What business can't? Check the water cooler in the morning. But they're certainly not alone in the league.

Some of your criticism is valid. But I don't think you can get away by just yelling "Mike Brown," anymore, the way some conservatives just say "Ted Kennedy," and they think that's all they have to say.

It fails to take into account how he has allowed Blackburn do some things he wouldn't dream of doing (voidable years, option bonuses, guaranteed money) in shaping tough top 10 on-time rookie deals for Warrick, Jones, and Palmer, as well as keeping the core of this offense intact through 2008, and immediatley firing extensions to a popular, on-the-make coach in Marvin Lewis.

In this league, that ain't easy, so they can't just be sitting around throwing darts at the wall.

I understand a lot of people are fuming over the last 14 years. But some times they have to look through the smoke and see the other guys on the island.

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