Bengals, Pickens part company
The Cincinnati Bengals finally parted company with Carl Pickens, releasing the receiver who holds team records for career receptions and receiving touchdowns.
The Bengals terminated Pickens' contract Thursday, releasing him to free agency. It was part of Cincinnati's settlement with the NFL Players Association over the team's use of the "franchise player" designation for the 30-year-old receiver.
"We didn't want to leave any loose ends," Bengals president Mike Brown said as the team prepared to open training camp today in Georgetown, Ky.
Releasing Pickens will force the Bengals to write off $3 million against the salary cap over the next two years, Brown said.
The NFLPA dropped its grievance against the Bengals, team officials said. In exchange, the team will have use of a "transition player" tag -- right of first refusal -- in 2001 but not the franchise player tag. For 2002 and following years, the team will again be able to use the franchise player designation.
Pickens vowed to never play for the Bengals again after they used the franchise tag on him after the 1998 season. After sitting out training camp, Pickens signed a one-year contract.
The club then gave him a five-year, $23 million deal. Pickens responded with one of his least-productive seasons, criticized the decision to bring head coach Bruce Coslet back for 2000 and demanded a trade when the season ended.
The romance between retired pass rusher Reggie White and Carolina grew a little warmer Thursday.
The team has received permission from Green Bay to talk with White and several Panthers said the NFL's career sacks leader had recently told them he was considering playing again. Panthers coach George Seifert said the team had been contacted by White's agent.
"Reggie is interested in playing again so we are investigating," Seifert said. "Right now it's pretty informal, in the getting permission from Green Bay stage. We've got that permission."
White, 38, played his 14th and supposedly final season in 1998. He finished his career with 192 1/2 sacks.
Rebuilt last year, Philadelphia is aiming for the next step now -- playoff contention.
After winning just eight games over the last two seasons, the Eagles are thinking playoffs following one full practice at Lehigh University.
"Our front office did an excellent job in the offseason of getting players we needed at positions we lacked talent," Pro Bowl cornerback Troy Vincent said. "They're here and we're a better club."
The Eagles' biggest offseason move was signing right tackle Jon Runyan away from AFC champion Tennessee for $30 million. Philadelphia also signed Carlos Emmons, an outside linebacker, away from Pittsburgh and brought in former Miami fullback Stanley Pritchett to replace Kevin Turner.
The Eagles completed their free agent signings with the acquisition of Brian Mitchell, a running back/return specialist, who has burned Philadelphia many times during his 10 years in Washington.
Danny Wuerffel is fighting for the chance to hold a clipboard, and that's just fine with him.
The 1996 Heisman Trophy winner is setting small goals as he attempts to make Green Bay's roster. He's battling established backup Matt Hasselbeck and promising second-year quarterback Aaron Brooks for the right to watch, clipboard in hand, while Brett Favre plays nearly every down.
But it's better than sitting at home, which is what Wuerffel thought he might have to do after New Orleans dropped him earlier this year.
"I'm just glad to get another chance," he said. "Green Bay has given me another opportunity to play ball, which is all I wanted."
The Florida star muddled through three poor seasons with the dismal Saints before moving to NFL Europe with the Rhein Fire this spring. He completed 161 of 260 passes for 2,042 yards and 25 touchdowns for the Fire, who beat the Scottish Claymores in the World Bowl.