Hobson's Choice: O'Neal staying for now

*Q: What is this I am hearing about Deltha O'Neal being shopped around? Who would take his place as the other starting corner if we trade him?

I don't have that much confidence in Keiwan. Does Marvin? What are they looking to get out of him if this is true? A 3rd round pick I would assume or do you think we could get a 2nd? Can't wait to hear your opinion on this topic.
--Curtis, Middletown, OH*

CURTIS: That O'Neal trade report sounds like it's a little dated, although nothing can be ruled out on Draft Day. But the temperature right is now is that he's not on the block, he's not going anywhere, and they need him because who is going to take his place?

Moving Madieu Williams from safety to cornerback is an idea that's being kicked around but is probably going to depend on how the draft goes. And a move may end up being moot with his backup, Kevin Kaesviharn, now in New Orleans.

But Williams' flexibility gives you flexibility in the first round. You take a corner, you can leave him at safety. You take a safety and then maybe you think about moving him, although there is some concern that Williams can play corner down after down. But certainly on nickel downs and in a Cover 2 he'd be a terrific corner because he can run and blitz.

But even if they draft a corner at No. 18, that doesn't necessarily mean they want to go into the opener with their two starting cornerbacks having nine NFL starts among them, and all of them belonging to Johnathan Joseph.

All of which reflects why there are no plans to trade O'Neal at this point in time.

Now, maybe O'Neal wants to get traded but that's a different story. During this past offseason Marvin Lewis has alluded to guys in '06 who didn't play well because they were thinking about contracts and O'Neal is a leading candidate because they didn't redo his deal after he went to the Pro Bowl and became the first Bengal ever with 10 interceptions in 2005.

All that said, I love the guy. He may be the best athlete on the team, he's got great hands, and except for last season, always seems to be around the ball and makes something happen.

Why he struggled so badly last season, who knows? Injuries were a part of it and maybe the contract had something do with it. But if he returns to '05 form (and they apparently have not counted him out), it's almost like getting a big-time free agent.


*Q:Are you kidding me? Isaac Curtis only getting 15 percent of the fan poll vote? Going against the defenses he did ('70s Steelers twice per year, Raiders, Dolphins) and the VERY lax interference rules (mugging the receiver was OK)?

He is THE BEST we have had! Obviously, the age of our website visitors is very young, or memories are very bad! Your thoughts?
--P.J.W., Findlay, OH*

PJ: Don't blame it all on the kids. Even the old guys that vote for the Hall of Fame have forgotten about him. If he played in the '90s on either coast, there would be monuments and babies named after him.

The best Isaac Curtis line comes from his quarterback, Ken Anderson: "Isaac was Jerry Rice before Jerry Rice."

His 416 catches are more than Lynn Swann and his 17.1 yards per catch are longer than John Stallworth, two AFC Central receivers that played in the same era and are in the Hall.

And legend is that Paul Brown got the mugging rules changed because of what defenses had to do to contain Curtis.

No question. The guy is one of the greats. Carl Lewis speed and Willie Mays hands.

But he played in the middle of the country and in the middle of the '70s, long before the birth of the modern media and offenses. What's amazing is that Curtis never caught 50 balls or 1,000 yards in a season. It was a running game, a totally different mindset.

No question. Ike is one of the most underrated great players of any sport.


Q: With no third-round pick and Chris Henry's (problems), how will this affect our draft? Also, will Perry be there when the season starts?
--Sam B., Hillsboro, OH

SAM: I'm guessing you mean Tab Perry (hip) because you're asking about receiver Chris Henry. He won't be cleared at the beginning of the offseason stuff, but guys who have seen him working out say he looks good. And they seem to be expecting him to be ready for the season.

And he better because the word on the street is that Henry is going to get a stiff suspension to start the season. So whether it's going to be four or six games or whatever, Tab has to be that third receiver with Kelley Washington gone. Plus, they are really going to need to get something out of Antonio Chatman after he virtually missed all last season with groin pulls.

And the Bengals will know before the draft if, or how long they'll be without Henry. But they need so much help on defense, and they also have seventh-rounder Bennie Brazell healthy now so they still have depth. At least enough that Henry loppage wouldn't make them go offense on the first day of the draft.

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