No takers for Pickens

By GEOFF HOBSON

The Bengals know exactly where they stand with Carl Pickens. They can't trade him and his $3 million salary. But they don't know where they stand with his projected successor, Peter Warrick, after they got notice Warrick terminated his agent.

Such was the status of their wide receivers, old and new, as the Bengals prepare for their first minicamp workout a week from today.

Bengals President Mike Brown said Cincinnati isn't holding up any deals for Pickens because the club wants his $3.5 million signing bonus returned. In fact, they are coming to terms with getting nothing for him in either returned money or a player in a trade.

As reported on Bengals.Com earlier this week, Pickens suggested to the Bengals that he would return much of his bonus if a deal could be struck on Draft Day. But the club was later told Pickens rejected the idea when he learned his new team wouldn't be obligated to replace that $3.5 million he received when he signed a five-year, $23.2 million deal back in September.

Plus, the Jets and Broncos turned the Bengals down when they went looking for second-round picks, and there have been no callers since the draft.

"In two years," Brown said, "we haven't had one solid offer for Pickens. We've had inquiries, but that's all."

Pickens already has the $3.5 million. The Bengals just have to figure out how to count it against their salary cap. All signs point to releasing him before June 1, which means the entire pro-rated figure of $2.8 million will count against this year's cap. If they cut Pickens after June 1, $700,000 counts against the '00 cap and $2.1 million against '01.

Given that the Bengals don't like to push money into the future, a move is more likely sooner rather than later, but they aren't saying what or when.

There are more complex questions when it comes to Warrick, their first-round pick in last week's NFL Draft. The Bengals, and apparently his agents, received on Friday a fax from Warrick terminating his agreement with SFX Sports of New York.

"It's apparently signed by Peter Warrick and it's sent from Tallahassee (Florida), but there's no hint of who his new agent would be," Brown said. "It's a bit unsettling. We thought we could work with his guy and get a deal done before training camp. We'll find out when he gets in here this week. We give all our guys authorization forms."

Ron Dugans, the Bengals' third-round pick and Warrick's fellow Florida State receiver, said he is still represented by SFX's Michael George and was unaware Warrick had changed agents. Warrick and SFX couldn't be reached today for commnent.

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