Tuesday, February 13, 2001

Bengals 'tag' Dillon

Designation comes with 1-year deal for $3.66M

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Bengals made it official Monday: They put the transition tag on running back Corey Dillon.

        Team president Mike Brown has said all along the team would do so.

        “It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone,” spokesman Jack Brennan said. “We've said we're going to do it. We're simply exercising our rights under the collective bargaining agreement, as is Corey.”

        In order to put the tag on Dillon, the Bengals have, in effect, tendered him a 1-year deal for $3.66 million. That's the average salary of the 10 highest-paid running backs.

        Dillon becomes a free agent March 2 and can negotiate with other teams. But, if he signs an offer sheet, the Bengals have the right to match the deal.

        If the Bengals don't match, they lose Dillon and get no compensation.

        Dillon, 25, rushed for a career-high 1,435 yards and seven touchdowns during the 2000 season. It was his second straight season running for more than 1,200 yards.

        He is probably the top free agent running back available and likely will hear from teams such as Cleveland and Minnesota.

        Brown for months said the Bengals would match any offer. He backed off that statement a bit last Thursday.

        “We intend to reserve money to sign him,” Brown said. “That doesn't mean if some club makes a preposterous offer to him that we'll meet it.”

        Dillon held out the first three weeks of training camp last year before signing a $3 million, 1-year deal.

        Dillon rejected the 7-year, $60 million offer, which included a $12 million signing bonus, in mid-January. He fired his agents shortly after that, and hired super agent Leigh Steinberg.

        Steinberg could not be reached for comment Monday.


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