The Bengals still appear to be ruminating over the details of a deal for cornerback Adam Jones.
It is believed a formal offer has been sent to and perused by his agents, but there has been no word of a verbal agreement. Ray Savage, one of Jones’ representatives, had no comment at the end of business Wednesday but is expecting to speak with the Bengals on Thursday.
Jones has already told once and future teammate Tank Johnson he’s coming to the Bengals and that “he’s ecstatic.”
There are also indications that veteran safety Gibril Wilson is moving closer to a deal in Cincinnati but agent Alvin Keels said late Wednesday afternoon he was still working on it. Like Jones, Wilson had a fruitful post-workout meeting with the defensive coaches Tuesday.
"He really hit it off up there and I know they liked him and he liked them," said Keels, the agent for Andre Smith, the Bengals No. 1 pick last year. "We're trying to get something done and we're still talking."
Jones figures to sign (probably for one year with incentives) before the Bengals on-field voluntary drills start Tuesday and Johnson assures, “With his head screwed on tight, he can play.”
Johnson and Jones were teammates in Dallas in 2008, when Jones, the fourth cornerback, got suspended for six games, and was released into free agency after the season and hasn’t played since. But Johnson says that Pacman Jones and this Adam Jones aren’t the same guy.
“I know he’s settled down,” Johnson said Wednesday. “I think you have to settle down. I think he would have been dead by now if he didn’t settle down. That’s the honest to god truth.”
Johnson knows the path.
While Jones served a season-long suspension in 2007 for a slew of off-field transgressions, Johnson had his own eight-game sentence. He came back to play in Dallas and when the Cowboys let him go after the ’08 season, the Bengals gave Johnson a one-year shot and he turned it into a four-year deal with a solid ’09 after he earned a starting job at tackle despite playing hurt under the tough love of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.
“I don’t make any guarantees for any man. That’s not how it works,” said Johnson, who talks to Jones a couple of times a week. “I think he’s made definite strides. I think coming into this Bengals family with Coach (Marvin) Lewis and Coach Zim and the Brown family, that is going to be great for him. I think Dallas was too much glitz, too much of a wild situation to go into, but this is definitely a more tame situation.”
Zimmer is the main reason Jones is here. After coaching Deion Sanders in Dallas, Zimmer has remained in touch with the future Hall of Famer that has befriended Jones and has talked endlessly about him. Sanders, Zimmer said, has told him that Jones will play for him.
Johnson feels like he has blossomed under Zimmer’s no-nonsense style and he thinks Jones can, too.
“I think Zim will be good for him; all he has to do is listen to Zim,” Johnson said. “I can talk to Zim. Adam needs to listen to Zim. There is a difference there. I’ve earned the right to talk to Zim and Adam has not earned the right to open his mouth to Zim. He needs to listen to all the wise things Zim has to say and soak it all in like a sponge and go from there.”
Johnson says that Jones has followed his example in trying to put his associations into the past with his past.
“He’s humble. I think the time off has humbled him and humility is the first step to recovery,” Johnson said. “When you get broken down to a point the only place you can go is up, it starts to take the weight off your back of the other things that weigh you down so when you get to that rock bottom point, you’ve got to realize you’ve got to cut lose those people that are anchoring you, and help get your way back to the top. I just pretty much cut ties with anybody who could put me in potential of harm and people that were way too volatile. I had to do that to secure my safety and the longevity of my career. I think he’s done that.”
Johnson says it’s a good feeling to be free of the past. He’s got four more years and he says he’ll try to help Jones get there. His advice is simple.
“I saw Mike Vick this offseason,” Johnson said of the quarterback who returned to the NFL last year after serving 18 months in a dog-fighting scandal. “We were just so proud of each other that we made our way back to the top. There is a small fraternity of bad boys who turned to good boys. When you come in here, keep your mouth shut and decline all interviews and that’s it.”