BY GEOFF HOBSON - GEORGETOWN, Ky.
After a seven-hour meeting today with the agent for second-rounder Mark Roman here at Georgetown College, the Bengals hoped they could secure a deal with the LSU cornerback by the time they leave Thursday afternoon for Buffalo and Friday's preseason opener.
But a brief phone call with Corey Dillon's agent gave the club no indication the Pro Bowl running back is ready to end his contract stalemate.
As Bengals executives Katie Blackburn and Paul Brown left the meeting with Roman agent Joel Segal tonight, they emphasized there was no deal and that they hope there are more talks Thursday before Segal heads back to New York.
But the club did say progress was made. The sides are apparently talking about a straight four-year deal instead of a contract containing a voidable year. If Roman is to get near the approximate $800,000 annual average that the players drafted around him have received without the voidable concept, the Bengals would have to offer an incentive package.
"It's not the amount of money," Brown said. "It's how it's earned and how it's paid."
Segal had no comment.
Dillon agent Marvin Demoff told the Bengals he planned to speak with his client before talking with the club. Demoff told them he was pleased to read Dillon's comments on bengals.com that indicated he would be happy to come in and play this season if the money was right.
The Bengals still have no comment on Dillon's desire for a one-year deal comparable to the $3.5 million Stephen Davis signed in Washington, the tender for a running back designated a franchise free agent. The Bengals said that kind of money wasn't mentioned today and that the club has generally discussed with Demoff a one-year deal slightly more than the $1.37 million tender for restricted free agents.
Blackburn said the season-ending broken leg suffered by leading receiver Darnay Scott hasn't made getting Dillon into camp any more urgent. Without Dillon and Scott, past 1,000-yard performers, the NFL total yardage for the Bengals healthy running backs and wide receivers is 1,049 yards.
"Obviously Darnay being out would have hurt us even if Corey was here," Blackburn said. "That's not going to change one way or the other. I have faith in (rookie receivers Peter and Ron) Warrick and Dugans. It hurts losing Darnay, but we may be able to do well anyway. And we want Corey here, too."
Coslet also said it wasn't "more urgent," to get Dillon in now, but he also said, "it's been urgent for awhile. We keep calling and making offers. That's why we're continuing to talk to his agent so we can work something out."
But Coslet isn't counting on him. Asked if he saw any light at the end of the tunnel, Coslet said, "No. I wish I can tell you, "Yes,' but I can't."