1-22-01, 7:00 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
MOBILE, Ala. _ In an effort to protect younger players, the Bengals put two familiar veterans on Tuesday's expansion list in tight end Tony McGee and backup left tackle John Jackson.
Also made available to the Houston Texans for next month's draft are three younger backup players in tackle Jamain Stephens, defensive end Jevon Langford and rookie linebacker Riall Johnson.
The one eye-raiser is McGee, the only starter on the list and the only tight end on the roster with more than two NFL starts. McGee, who has started 134 games since the Bengals drafted him in the second round in
1993, turns 31 in April. That, combined with one year left on a contract that counts $1.8 million against the salary cap, may be too much for the Texans to spend on a player who has finished the last two seasons on injured reserve with a combined 40 catches.
But he's a player the Bengals value highly personally and professionally and would like to return.
"We don't want to lose any one and the only reason we put Tony on there was for salary cap reasons," said Katie Blackburn, the Bengals executive vice president. "He has a big number and it would help us with the cap if he was taken. He's been a good player for us and he's a good guy."
McGee, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery about three weeks ago, expects to be back running in two weeks.
McGee said Tuesday night he's not sure what it means about his future with the club.
"It's business," McGee said. "I don't take it personally. I'm just going to get healthy. I'm not going to worry about anything I can't control. I don't really want to speculate on going to Houston because it might not happen."
Jackson, 37, said after the season finale that he would return to the Bengals for a 15th season in '02. The Cincinnati prep product from Woodward High School signed with his hometown team before the 2000 season and didn't start a game for the first time since his rookie year last year.