Saturday, October 11, 1997NOTEBOOK
Braham's contract extended
BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Left guard Rich Braham's three-year contract got extended to four with some restructuring that gives Braham more upfront money and allows the club to clear salary cap room for the 1999 season, when potential new deals for quarterback Jeff Blake and Carl Pickens could kick in.
The Patriots signed Braham to a back-loaded three-year deal in the off-season when he was a restricted free agent. The Bengals matched an offer that gave Braham $800,000 in salary and bonuses this year, $300,000 in 1998 (with a $300,000 bonus if he plays in 50 percent of the plays and a $600,000 bonus if he plays in 75 percent), and a $1.5 million salary in 1999 with a $500,000 roster bonus.
The Bengals wanted to spread out that '99 deal.
Other dealsAs for Wilkinson, the Bengals don't appear to be talking to his representatives. But Steve Zucker, who is negotiating Copeland's deal with former Bengal Tim McGee, said talks are continuing. The Bengals have hinted the sides are far apart and that it's tough to lock up long term deals now with a new TV deal threatening to drive up the salary cap next year.
"It's going to be huge," said Zucker of the TV deal. "With CBS trying to get it back from Fox, it's going to be huge. I think I know what it's going to be, and I think I know what John's value is going to be. It's going to be high because of his position."
Step to the MikeAs usual, Bengals General Manager and President Mike Brown didn't back down from taking responsibility for the club's 1-4 start.
"I understand the criticism," Brown said. "I'm not any happier than the people calling the talk shows. What is a concern is that we haven't played one game this year where we came off the field feeling good about how we played."
Every year at this time (and the Bengals are 2-21 in October since 1991, Brown's first year), the question is asked whether Brown plans to give up his GM duties:
"I have no plans to do that."
Injury updateRG Scott Brumfield gets his first start Sunday since his spinal injury last Nov. 3 with Ken Blackman (knee) out. ILB Tom Tumulty (leg bruise) should start after missing nearly three games.
Today's reportSitting takes toll on Esiason
McNair 'making progress'