Smith, Bengals keep talking

8-19-01, 11:45 a.m.

Updated: 8-19-01, 4:20 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

The Bengals and the agent for Justin Smith agreed on at least one thing during Sunday's meeting at Paul Brown Stadium.

They agreed to keep talking Monday and moved the summit to the Bengals' training camp at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky.

Neither side would say that meant the talks were headed in the right direction. But Troy Blackburn, the Bengals director of business development, said, "I think both sides would agree that meeting face-to-face was productive."

Agent Jim Steiner, who had to get back to St. Louis Sunday night, spent six hours in discussions with Blackburn and Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn before making the call to come back Monday and try to get the NFL's fourth draft pick signed.

"It's no sign," Steiner said. "It's just a sign that

we are working hard and trying to get something done."

They did a take a lunch break for some take-out Frisch's cheeseburgers and French fries, but neither side divulged where the talks stand.

The two biggest issues appear to be guaranteeing the second part of a split signing bonus and which milestones should trigger Smith's escalators.

Smith is due to get $4 million of what is believed to be a $9 million bonus in March. He wants it guaranteed while the Bengals say there's virtually no chance they will cut him and that they don't want to set a precedent with guaranteed money.

The Bengals also want to stick with the structure of incentives they gave Peter Warrick with the fourth pick last year, which calls for him to do more than play a minimum number of snaps. Steiner seeks a different structure that doesn't tie Smith so much to the team making the playoffs.

"Both sides listened to the other's concerns," Troy Blackburn said. "We went over a lot of different concepts to try and meet their concerns."

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