8-21-01, 2:05 p.m.
Updated: 8-21-01, 4:25 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
GEORGETOWN, Ky. _ The Justin Smith negotiations have now gone from a vigil to a marathon here in Bengals' training camp at Georgetown College.
Agent Jim Steiner spent Tuesday shuttling between the dorm room of Bengals officials Katie and Troy Blackburn and a makeshift office that also serves as the defensive line's meeting room in the college's conference center.
It's a fitting place for Steiner to work on the third straight day of face-to-face negotiations. The Bengals are trying to sign their starting right end who is also the fourth pick in the NFL Draft.
Steiner and the Blackburns continued not to comment on specifics, although Steiner did say, "there has been give and take on both sides, but whether that leads to finality, I don't know." Steiner indicated he's willing to stay overnight if circumstances warrant.
"I have no plans to leave unless I'm asked to leave the property," Steiner said.
Bengals President Mike Brown, who hasn't been involved in any negotiating session, said he's hopeful a deal can get done Tuesday or Wednesday.
"It's time," said Brown before Tuesday morning's walk-through. "I think both
of us know now is the time it should get done. I would say both of us are working hard to make sure each side gets a good deal. I'm hoping it can be finished today or tomorrow."
The sides are trying to finish what looks to be a six-year deal in the $18 million range, which nearly doubles with escalators.
Steiner has been looking to incorporate two issues into the deal that other top picks have used but that the Bengals have long been against.
One is guaranteed money, which would be for the second portion of Smith's estimated $9-10 million bonus. The other is play-time triggers for the escalators, which the pick before Smith has. But the Bengals argue the recent fourth picks have had escalators based on performance milestones.
As Steiner lunched and in the Bengals' dining hall and then disappeared into his new room, word was the Blackburns went for a jog. But there was no sign of the holdout finishing as it ran toward the end of its 33rd day.
"There's nothing to say because there's nothing to say yet," Steiner said.