Updated: 5:35 p.m.
Nearly three years to the day the Bengals took David Pollack with their first pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, head coach Marvin Lewis said Pollack is headed to retirement.
Lewis also initially denied an ESPN report, but then later confirmed that the Bengals did turn down the Redskins' offer of a first-round pick this year and potentially next for Chad Johnson.
The Washington Times also reported Tuesday the deal had been turned down.
Lewis told ESPN's Chris Mortensen after he read the story that it was accurate and that the Bengals turned down the Redskins' first-round pick, No. 21 overall this year, and a conditional third-rounder in 2009 that could escalate to a first rounder if Johnson and the Redskins hit certain performance levels.
Lewis denied the report at first because the question posed to him mistakenly characterized the report as two first-rounders. In fact, Lewis said he told Washington the Bengals wouldn't do that deal.
But now that they're talking, the buzz is going to heat up.
Pollack, a defensive end at Georgia that the Bengals chose No. 17, had a tough, brief pro career that was in such contrast to his All-American run. His switch to strongside linebacker was complicated by a nearly three-week holdout and injuries limited him to 14 games, but he did become the first Bengals rookie to log a postseason sack and with four of his 4.5 sacks coming late in the season he looked to have turned the corner.
PollackBut he suffered a broken neck Sept. 17, 2006 in the second game of the season trying to tackle Browns running back Reuben Droughns. Lewis said Pollack told him last week that he wasn't comfortable with the neck medically despite being cleared to play.
"He spent some time with me well over a week ago and that's where it was headed," Lewis said. "It's a tough, tough decision for his family ... (but) he's going to have an outstanding life. ... We know the quality of the person; he's got such a bright future in whatever he does."
Pollack has talked about going into coaching as well as television. Last year he worked on the SEC Game of the Week, and he also did an all-star game.
"It's sad, but I know David Pollack isn't going to be sad," said right tackle Willie Anderson. "He's the kind of guy that is going to be successful in anything he does. It's a loss for his teammates because everybody liked his energy and enthusiasm. He never changed from college."
It is believed that Pollack's retirement puts $1.3 million on this year's salary cap.
The club has been adamant in not trading Johnson, the disgruntled five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, and ESPN.com said the Eagles and Cowboys have also been told Johnson is not on the market.
With Johnson talking retirement if the Bengals don't trade him, Lewis said, "He's a man of his word. He says he's not going to play, so don't play."
"It's time to do what you're going to say you do and we'll just move forward," Lewis said.
Quarterback Carson Palmer, who unintentionally got in the middle of L'Affaire Chad last week when Johnson ripped Palmer for saying he would be here when he had to be, avoided saying much Tuesday.
"I take it with a grain of salt," Palmer said. "I've always been a forgiving guy," and he still would like Johnson to come back because "he's been such a good player."
Anderson, dean of the Bengals heading into his 13th season, wonders what happens if Johnson does report. He echoes what T.J. Houshmandzadeh said last week.
"It's going to be interesting," Anderson said. "We all know in the land of the Bengals how crazy it can get around there. I was one of those that thought he would come back, but he's standing strong. I can understand if they can't do anything because of the salary cap. I see that.
"But I also think people have to pay attenton to what he's been saying about what he'll do when he comes back because the guy is a great player."
LewisWith uncertainly surrounding Johnson, the release of Chris Henry and lingering injuries to Kenny Irons and Chris Perry, Lewis said the Bengals go into the draft looking for receivers and running backs, as well as linebackers and defensive backs.
But he indicated the priority is on the defensive line, where they seek a run-stuffing tackle and USC's Sedrick Ellis looks to be the fit at No. 9.
No team has traded up into the top seven since 2003 and while Lewis didn't rule it out, he was cautious about making any trades. He fears a trade down to get an extra pick could put a player the Bengals want out of reach.
"You can't get cute," Lewis said. "I would be reluctant to advise us to do that."
Lewis mentioned both lines as priorities, but there doesn't look to be much room on the offensive line. He said he's encouraged by the health of tackles Willie Anderson and Levi Jones, feels the Bengals have solid insurance in guards that can move to tackle in Stacy Andrews and Andrew Whitworth, and believes backup guard Nate Livings and backup center Dan Santucci can contribute in the interior.
But Lewis warned of some Draft Day surprises because of the volatility of this crop and sees more movement with trades than usual.
"After the first few players there are going to be varying views of value of these particular guys," Lewis said. "Based on guys' injuries, based on things character wise, perceived speed versus timed speed. There are going to be a lot of different opinions how teams have viewed and graded. It's going to be different than the popular belief sitting there watching Saturday afternoon football."