Tuesday, June 13, 2000

Progress is made in Dillon talks

RB to stay in town; sides meet again today

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Contract talks between the Bengals and Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon ended at 10:10 Monday night but will resume this morning.

        “We've been all over the map,” Bengals President Mike Brown said after the 11-hour session. “At one point, we thought we were pretty close, but it didn't sail with Corey. We're still seeing a pretty significant difference.”

        Marvin Demoff, Dillon's agent, said, “It's money. Everybody's trying. There's an honest difference of opinion.”

        That difference appears to be whether Dillon is one of the NFL's elite backs and deserving of the $5 million annual salary those backs command.

        Dillon is seeking a multi-year contract. His Bengals teammate Willie Anderson recently signed a $5.1 million-a-year contract extension, and Dillon now is believed to want more than Anderson.

        While neither Brown nor Demoff would categorize the day's results as “optimistic or pessimistic,” the fact they will resume suggests progress.

        At 6 p.m., Dillon left Spinney Field in a rented Cadillac to get burgers and termed the day-long negotiation session “a waste of time.”

        Inside Bengals offices, executives Paul H. Brown, Katie Blackburn and Bill Scanlon continued to talk with Dillon's agent, Marvin Demoff. Mike Brown, in and out of meetings most of the day, was involved at nightfall.

        Dillon, asked if he would miss the season's first 10 games rather than sign a contract that didn't pay him the respect and money due one of the league's top runners, said, “I will.

        “I will be fresher for next year.”

        The meeting started at 10:30 Monday morning.

        At 3 p.m., Dillon said, he was ready to fly back to Seattle. Instead, he said, “I took a cat nap in Katie's office.” Dillon had taken a red-eye flight from Los Angeles Sunday.

        The duration of the deal is as important to Dillon as the dollars.

        He said he won't sign a one-, two- or three-year deal.

        In April, the Bengals offered Dillon a five-year contact for $18.3 million. There's also a one-year, $1.37 million offer on the table.

        Dillon is not interested in stop- gap measures.

        “It's either long-term or let me go,” he said.

        If Dillon doesn't accept the $1.37 million tender by Thursday, the Bengals will invoke their right to cut his contract to a 10-percent raise over what Dillon made last year. He was paid $503,300 in 1999, his third consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season, and would receive $553,000 this year.

        Mike Brown, who is not the team's primary negotiator — son Paul H. Brown is — said the team would like to sign Dillon and would see it as a conclusion to a successful offseason that included agreements with Anderson and top pick Peter Warrick.

        If the team can't deal with Dillon and he chooses to miss the first 10 games, the Bengals, Brown said, will go with a quartet of untested backs — Michael Basnight, Brandon Bennett, rookie Curtis Keaton and Sedrick Shaw.

        Demoff, Dillon and Dillon's friend, Darryl Henry, arrived at Spinney Field about 10:20 a.m.

        The men went into a conference room with Bengals officials. Dillon came out about 30 minutes later.

        Dillon then took a tour of Paul Brown Stadium with Troy Blackburn, the team's director of stadium operations, and Eric Ball, who was on his first day as the Bengals' director of player development and community relations.

        “He likes the new stadium,” Mike Brown said late Monday night. “It was a big plus.”


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