No deal after three-day talks

8-21-01, 6:55 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

GEORGETOWN, Ky. _ Three days of face-to-face negotiations ended Tuesday at dinnertime when the agent for Bengals first-round pick Justin Smith left here without a deal.

Agent Jim Steiner, who said earlier in the day he wouldn't leave unless asked to vacate Bengals training camp, said he left "under my own volition," and headed back to St. Louis.

"We just couldn't resolve all the issues and I didn't think it would be productive if I stayed on," said Steiner, who declined to divulge specifics. "We came close on some issues and not on others.

"I think we're closer than where we were Sunday, but we're not there yet," Steiner said.

Troy Blackburn, the Bengals director of business development who negotiated with wife Katie during the three days, said the club is now prepared to go back to the drawing board. Smith's holdout hits its 34th day Wednesday, 18 days before the regular-season opener.

"We've said we'll talk tomorrow over the phone," Troy Blackburn said. "We're going to have to re-visit some things."

Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn and her husband spent six hours with Steiner Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium before the summit switched here Monday for another six-hour session.

Steiner arrived here Tuesday at about 9 a.m. and spent the day shuttling between the Blackburns' dorm room and a makeshift office that also serves as the defensive line's meeting room in the college's conference center

"Sure it was worth the trip," Steiner said. "I'm doing whatever I can in the best interests of Justin Smith."

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