Hobson's Choice: Catch-2.2 Million.

Are you kidding me? The Peter Warrick situatation has suddenly gone from patiently optimistic to a, "well maybe we don't need him" kind of mindset. I for one have been anxious to see him get back on the field. He said he is in the best shape of his life, his knee has been cleared, and overall he just looks like a new man.

For the first time in his NFL career P-Dub could be catching passes from a true stud of a quarterback in Carson, and could become a vital role player for this offense on third down. He has a great sense for finding holes in zone coverage and getting open and his abilities after the catch are irreplacable. He very well could be the catalist that turns this good offense into a well oiled machine. If he returns to 100% form, I think he's worth the money. He could also add another explosive element to this team by returning punts. Wouldn't you agree?

How do you think the P-Dub situation will unfold? If he refuses a paycut, do they trade him? Are the Bengals absolutely not going to give him his 2.2 mil? If he does stay with the team, how do you see him fitting in with this offense. I would hate to see Warrick go and would appreciate your thoughts on the topic.
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--Ronnie, Lexington, KY

RONNIE:**
Call this the Catch $2.2 Million. You're right, but "If," is the operative word in the entire scenario that is worth $2.2 million. That's a high-end conjunction. At the moment, from all that's been written, (and this is just an observer's best guess), it's hard to see them paying him the whole thing.

There is a lot at risk.

If they activate him, and he's not 100 percent, and he has to sit out again and he goes back on that day-to-day treadmill, then you're probably out $2.2 million because a.) his people would most likely file a grievance for the money if you cut him to make room for somebody you need. Or, b.) you'd be out the money if you put him on injured reserve, without a draft pick or anything to show for it.

I do think some things have to be played out. You're talking about the Warrick of 2003, when he was absolutely splendid. How do you know he can do that again for sure? Plus, an inexperienced Palmer did some grand things with T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the slot last season.

And, frankly, I think you have to think long and hard about taking snaps from Chris Henry, a rookie who can be a different kind of playmaker than Warrick, but productive. Now, that's a violation of a long-held principle that I swear by and that is writing in veteran numbers for a rookie receiver. The transition is too huge for most.

But you still have to give him snaps. The X factor is, of course, Kelley Washington, and if he does anything close to what Houshmandzadeh did last year, then you've already got four nice wideouts. You can pay your third receiver $2.2 million, not your fourth or fifth. Where he fits in might be more complicated than where we are now if he's not the slam-dunk Warrick of 2003.

I agree with you. It'd be hard to say good-bye to Warrick. The people who work with every day insist he's a special kind of athlete. That's why I think it could take this week, or maybe next, or whenever the Bengals are convinced they're covered with Henry and Washington.

And that means other teams, too. The Bengals could get a couple of trade offers for him after the next game or two if clubs don't like what they have. Obviously, the Bengals wouldn't trade him in the division.

A marvelous talent. A tough player. Great practice player. A good guy. What he did for this club in the last game of 2003, playing just nine days after arthroscopic knee surgery in a do-or-die game for the playoffs, should never be forgotten.

This is a tough call. If it's the Warrick of 2003, jackpot. If it's the Warrick of 2004, Henry sits, Warrick hobbles, and you're out $2.2 million without even getting a fifth-round pick in return. The Catch-22 for this guy with great hands is you don't know if he's worth $2.2 million and, by the time you find out, you've lost it.

We don't need Drew Rosenhaus for this one. We need Joseph Heller.

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