Trade winds stir PBS

3-11-04, 7:45 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

The agent for Eagles cornerback Troy Vincent said Thursday that her client plans to resolve his future "in the next day or two," with the Panthers emerging as a possible option for the five-time Pro Bowler.

But one thing that doesn't look to be happening soon is Bengals backup quarterback Jon Kitna getting traded to the Chargers. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported in Thursday's editions that the Bengals called exploring the Chargers' interest in trading for Kitna, but got indications the club isn't interested heading that way.

And, with the Raiders reportedly in discussions with free-agent running back Garrison Hearst, there were no indications at the end of business Thursday that the Bengals were about to pull off a trade sending Corey Dillon to Oakland for a first day draft pick.

Since the trading period opened last week, the Bengals have reportedly shopped Dillon for picks or players with the Raiders, Broncos, Buccaneers, and any other team that looked to need a running back. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported a deal could happen in the next 48 hours, but it's believed that only a second-rounder in exchange for Dillon would make it happen that soon.

The Bengals aren't talking about Dillon, or anyone else for that matter. Vincent now has "an open dialogue," with a Carolina team that opened up $2 million in salary cap room Thursday. But he has no offer or visit set up with Carolina, said Linda Bodley. She also said he received an offer from the Chiefs Thursday and that he was deciding among the Bengals, Bills, and Kansas City.

The Bengals could also hear soon from their own strong safety, Rogers Beckett. Despite his visits to the Jets, Tampa Bay and Carolina, his agent said Thursday night the Bengals are still leading his list.

With the Chiefs only looking at him as an insurance policy and his old Philadelphia position coach the Bengals defensive coordinator, Cincinnati still appears to be the frontrunner unless Carolina flexes its muscle.

Beckett did get a visit to Carolina Thursday after visiting Tampa Bay Wednesday, but the Panthers didn't apparently offer during the visit. Agent David Caravantes said Beckett has more offers to visit, but isn't sure he wants to take them.

Vincent lives part of the time in, Gaston, N.C., about a four-hour drive from Charlotte, and Carolina made moves to clear salary cap room when they released left tackle Todd Steussie to save $1.3 million. The Rams also matched on the Panthers' offer to tight end Brandon Manumaleuna, which took more than $1 million off the Carolina rolls. But they also had to make room for the signings of former Bengals cornerback Artrell Hawkins and Panthers long snapper Jason Kyle.

The Bengals also have a visit set up with Eagles cornerback Bobby Taylor Sunday night, but the Houston native who has talked about his desire to play in his home state also has a visit planned in Dallas after he leaves Cincinnati.

The agent for Tampa Bay Pro Bowl safety John Lynch said Thursday that neither the Bengals or Lynch has shown interest in each other yet, but "it's early in the process," after Lynch said he was given permission to talk to other teams.

The Bucs turned down his request to restructure a deal that would have paid him $4.1 million in 2004 and $5 million in 2005. Plus, it looks like two of his old coaches in Tampa Bay, Colts head coach Tony Dungy and Jets head coach Herman Edwards, have the inside track.

But another player who has been given permission to talk may be on the Bengals' radar screen after June 1. Neil Schwartz, the agent for Broncos defensive tackle Daryl Gardener, said Thursday his client would love to be reunited with Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati.

Schwartz wouldn't comment when asked if he has talked to the Bengals, but he said his client has fond memories of the Redskins defense Lewis coordinated in 2002 and how Gardener was a big part of Washington finishing fifth overall in the NFL in defense and 12th in stopping the run. The Bengals were 28th and tied for 25th in those respective categories last year.

"Everyone knows Daryl played the best of his career with Marvin in Washington," said Schwartz of the 2002 season. "He was the MVP on that defense that had guys like Champ Bailey, LaVar Arrington and Bruce Smith."

The 6-6, 295-pound Gardener, 30, has settled his grievance with Denver and has been told the club is going to waive him in June after signing a seven-year, $34.8 million deal last year. The team withheld $2 million of his signing bonus and tried to get back $3 million already paid after the Broncos said Gardener violated terms of the contract he signed last March because of conduct detrimental to the team.

Schwartz said that Gardener understands he has to prove to teams he won't repeat what happened last season in Denver and that he's willing to assume the risk in a contract.

"If he doesn't play, then he feels like he shouldn't get paid," Schwartz said. "If he does, then he should. Daryl understands that.

"Marvin fully understands Daryl," he said.

In a way, Kitna actually felt relieved when he heard San Diego wasn't ready to trade for him.

"Now I can concentrate on backing up Carson (Palmer) and getting ready for that role, help him along this season, and see what happens next year," Kitna said. "I think the Bengals respect what I did last year and would try to get me in a position where I could play. But I don't want to go some place where there's going to be a competition. I'd just as soon stay here and help Carson through it."

Now, Kitna isn't so sure about a contract extension beyond 2004 because he hasn't heard back from the team after his agent sent the club a proposal Friday.

"I guess they aren't interested," Kitna said.

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