Posted: 5:45 a.m.
The Bengals are waiting on some kind of word from safety Kevin Kaesviharn and the Browns are waiting on some kind of word from the Bengals on defensive tackle Shaun Smith.
The Bengals may not end up with either player, but they do know they will have wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, a player whose role looks to change because of another free-agent move.
Houshmandzadeh is the leading candidate to replace new Oakland Raider Tony Stewart as Cincinnati's representative to the NFL Players Association.
The Bengals are reportedly trying to re-sign safety Anthony Mitchell, last year's alternate player rep. But with Mitchell on injured reserve all last year, Houshmandzadeh took on some tasks to help Stewart in the organization that is run nationally by NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw and president Troy Vincent.
Those two chose Houshmandzadeh as one of the handful of players to appear last month at NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's conduct summit.
"Gene and Troy would want me to do it; I know that," Houshmandzadeh said. "Honestly, I don't know if I'm ready for it. It's a lot of responsibility. I wouldn't mind doing it, but it's just something we'll have to see what happens."
Houshmandzadeh, 29, is heading into his seventh season and all of a sudden has become one of the team's elders with the offseason departures of Stewart, center Rich Braham and linebacker Brian Simmons.
Right tackle Willie Anderson leads the club with 174 games played for the Bengals and is now the only player who joined the team way back in the previous decade of the '90s.
Long snapper Brad St. Louis is second with 107, but Houshmandzadeh's class of 2001 is right behind. Defensive end Justin Smith has played in 95 games, wide receiver Chad Johnson 92, Houshmandzadeh 74, and running back Rudi Johnson 70.
If Kaesviharn, another '01 rookie, signs, he would be on the list with 87 games.
But the Bengals are caught in the same dilemma with Kaesviharn as they are with Shaun Smith. How much money are they willing to pay a backup?
The $2 million average figure for Smith looks to be too much on a starting front four that already counts $15 million against this year's salary cap.
The Bengals aren't as highly paid in the secondary, where starters Madieu Williams and Johnathan Joseph are on their rookie contracts. But Kaesviharn, like Smith, is also the beneficiary of being one of the few solid backups in a market that has more money than quality.
Kaesviharn is reportedly weighing offers from the Bengals as well as the Saints and Browns with the Saints perceived as the front runners because they can sign Kaesviharn and still go after a high-powered cornerback. But Cleveland also has more money to spend than the Bengals.
BENGALS SERVICE LEADERS:
RT Willie Anderson (drafted in first round 1996), 174 games
LS Brad St. Louis (drafted in seventh round 2000), 107 games
DE Justin Smith (drafted in first round 2001), 95 games
WR Chad Johnson (drafted second round in 2001), 92 games
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (drafted seventh round 2001), 74 games
RB Rudi Johnson (drafted fourth round 2001), 70 games
LT Levi Jones (drafted first round 2002), 69 games