Friday, March 09, 2001

Bengals Notebook

Stubblefield mulls hometown offer

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Bengals will entertain Arizona defensive end Simeon Rice and Dallas wide receiver James McKnight today — their 11th and 12th free agent prospects since the market opened March 2.

        But Bengals president Mike Brown indicated Thursday, an hour after the team signed quarterback Jon Kitna, the club might be done shopping for a while.

        “One option is to get in while the market is high,” he said. “Another option is to sit back now that we've plugged in two need spots and wait for the market to settle down.”

        They didn't wait long. The Bengals offered defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield a contract worth $3 million a season, but the former Taylor High star wasn't ready to make a decision Thursday afternoon, a Bengals official confirmed Thursday night. The team wanted an answer before today.

        The Bengals have signed two players, Kitna and former Vikings defensive tackle Tony Williams. Both agreed to four-year deals that don't appear to ruin the team's budget. Kitna's deal could be worth as much as $12 million and Williams' $11 million.

        Both players also signed the team's loyalty clause.

        CHANGING FOCUS: After extending offers to three of the six quarterbacks with whom they talked, the Bengals are turning their attention toward another weak spot, defensive end.

        Tennessee free agent Kenny Holmes was at Paul Brown Stadium on Thursday, along with former Ravens center Jeff Mitchell, and Rice and McKnight will be in town today.

        The Bengals had 26 sacks last season and were last in the NFL in sacks per play. Only 10 sacks were by defensive linemen.

        Holmes, 27, had nine last season for the Titans and has 22.5 in four seasons.

        “Kenny came out as a No.1 draft choice and built his skills from there and is now one of the top pass rushers in the National Football League, and this is an area where we definitely want to improve,” Bengals coach Dick LeBeau said.

        Holmes, who's 6-foot-4, 270 pounds, is known for his speed and ability to cause turnovers. He forced six fumbles in 2000.

        “A pass rush does everything,” he said. “Your turnovers increase, your big-play capability increases. The offense gets the ball more. Getting there is good, but knocking the ball out is great.”
        Holmes will visit Buffalo and the New York Giants and still has an interest in re-signing with the Titans.
        “I'm checking out my options,” he said.

        Rice had 7.5 sacks last season, down from 16.5 in 1999.

        NEXT WEEK: Two offensive linemen, center Casey Weigmann of the Bears and guard Ross Verba of the Packers — college teammates of Bengals starting guard Mike Goff at Iowa — will visit Monday.


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Kitna not assured starting job
- Stubblefield mulls hometown offer
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