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Willie Anderson - Styles



Bengals court Anderson visit**

The Bengals hope they can get right tackle Willie Anderson and his agent to return to Cincinnati and crank up contract negotiations a notch or two. Since Anderson and agent Terry Bolar met at Spinney Field 10 days ago with Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn for a marathon session, the talks have been substantive but sporadic.

"We'd like to bring it to a conclusion and we think meeting face-to-face would help make it happen," Blackburn said.

Anderson said tonight he planned to meet with Bolar to decide what to do next.

"We're either going there or they're coming (to Atlanta)," Anderson said. "I don't know what's going to happen. Terry's going to be doing the talking, so it's up to him."

Anderson said a deal "could be close," but he made it clear what issue is his biggest concern. The Bengals figure with the new money they are offering him in an extension, they are making him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL. It's probably slightly more than Jon Runyan's recent six-year, $30.5 million deal in Philadelphia, but Bolar considers the annual average salary lower than Runyan's because he views the Cincinnati deal as seven years because the Bengals won't rip up the 2000 contract.

"The biggest thing is guaranteed money and not bragging you're the highest paid lineman," Anderson said. "That's only going to last a couple of months, until Jonathan Odgen and Leon Searcy do their deals. It's the bonus. Yeah, it's nice to have the money now. But I don't want to cut myself short because I've still got a year to go on my contract."

Runyan got $10 million in the first year of the deal _ $6 million to sign, $3.5 million in roster bonus and $500,000 salary. The Bengals are apparently ready to offer a signing bonus bigger than Runyan's, but probably not $10 million this year.


The Bengals are interested in signing free-agent linebacker Lorenzo Styles once he recovers from an ankle injury. The 6-1, 245-pound Styles played for the Rams in the last Super Bowl and would have the same role here if he made the team: a backup who has played inside and outside and would play mainly on special teams. Styles, a third-round pick out of Ohio State in 1995 by the Falcons, was cut by Atlanta just before the '97 season. He hooked on with St. Louis a few months later.

"It will probably be another month before he can run again and then we'll take another look," said Jim Lippincott, the club's director of pro/college personnel.

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