By GEOFF HOBSON
Carl Pickens' new agent spoke with the Bengals for the first time today, but club president Mike Brown could only tell Hadley Engelhard the same thing he has been saying for months.
Ask the union.
Brown said he told Engelhard the Bengals are still waiting on an overall agreement between the NFL Players Association and the NFL in which part of the settlement says the NFLPA will dismiss its grievance against the club over its franchise player tag if Pickens is released. He also said he told Engelhard the Bengals won't give agents permission to find a trade for their clients.
"We spoke real briefly and nothing much was discussed at length," Engelhard said. "I'm hoping to talk to Gene (Upshaw) as soon as possible and find out where we are."
NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw isn't expected back in his office until Monday, which is just 11 days before the Bengals open training camp. The last time the Bengals saw Pickens, he was calling for coach Bruce Coslet's job and ripping management.
Asked if Pickens could still be on the team July 21 if there is no agreement by then, Brown said, "We'll face up to that. At this point, that's how it stands. If it changes, we'll let (Engelhard) know. Carl would be expected to come in and conduct himself in the same manner as any other player."
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Brown made it pretty clear he's not going to cut Pickens until the status over the club's franchise player is resolved. Earlier this year, the NFLPA filed a grievance against the Bengals, Cardinals, Packers and 49ers over the way they signed their franchise free agents to long-term contracts. If the franchise player signed a long-term contract, the team would lose the franchise tag for the duration of the player's deal. But since those teams signed a one-year deal with the player and then a long-term deal days later, the club got to keep the franchise tag.
The NFLPA argues the one-year deals were signed with a multi-year pact already agreed upon, but the Cardinals won their grievance and Brown thinks the Bengals would, too. He also said the NFLPA has dismissed the grievances against Green Bay and San Francisco and wonders why the Bengals are the team left.
"In our hearts, we know we're right on that case," Brown said. "It's hard for us to understand why the union wants to carry on with us when it elected not to with others in the same position. The cases were essentially the same fact pattern. So was ours. But for whatever reason, they've elected to put the pressure on us."
**JACKSON UPDATE:** Richard Katz, the agent for left tackle John Jackson, plans to speak with the Bengals Thursday. The talks are where they were after Jackson's tour of Paul Brown Stadium last week. The Bengals are mulling how much they will give a player they respect, but who will also come in as a backup to Rod Jones. Look for the talks to center on the area between $500,000 and $1 million. The agent for second-round pick Mark Roman hopes to speak with the team Thursday. The Bengals and the agent for third-round pick Ron Dugans haven't touched base since it appeared the sides have agreed to all but the Carl Pickens loyalty clause in the signing bonus.