Steussie talks ongoing

3-20-01, 7:40 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

The Bengals couldn't reach a deal with left tackle Todd Steussie Tuesday, but planned to keep talking to the former Viking Pro Bowler.

Steussie apparently didn't agree with Denver, either, Tuesday because two NFL sources said he was on his way to Cleveland Tuesday night to visit the Browns Wednesday after meeting with the Broncos.

But the Broncos did extend the contract of their right tackle, Matt Lepsis, with a six-year deal in the $26 million range that could signal action with Steussie.

CBSsportsline.com reported Tuesday evening that the Broncos gave Lepsis a $6.6 million signing bonus and a salary of $425,000 for this year, which means the cap hit for '01 is $1.5 million. But the move actually could have cleared more room for Denver because Lepsis already counted $1.1 million against the cap because that was his tender offer as a restricted free agent.

THIS AND THAT: Linebacker Adrian Ross, the Bengals' most sought after restricted free agent, has heard from Cleveland and Kansas City, but it's doubtful he would leave. The Bengals have the right to match and would most likely do so for one of their more productive players. Plus, they wouldn't get any compensation if they lost him because he wasn't drafted.

And, the Chiefs won't do anything until they resolve the Trent Green trade situation. If anything does happen, it would be closer to the restricted free agency deadline of April 16.

By the way, Ross is looking to add 10 pounds to get to 260, "so people can't keep holding me." Although his left index finger is still sore to the touch, the swelling has gone down and he'll participate in the May 4-7 minicamp. Ross says he still has scar tissue on top of the bone after ripping 75 percent of the tendon off the bone in an injury that ended his season last year with two games to go. . .

The Bengals kept a close eye on Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke during the Seminoles' NFL workout day Tuesday.

"He's a very mature guy who takes his work seriously," said scout Duke Tobin. "You can tell he was prepared for it. He's a confident kid who the other players rally around. You can tell they respect him. He goes about his craft well."

Weinke has been projected in the third-round range.

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