...and Then There Were Four

...and Then There Were Four

BengalsInsider.com's Kevin Goheen takes a look at the most recent signings by the Bengals, and discusses why signing progress is so slow. Here's the latest from Kevin...

The Bengals signed defensive end Elton Patterson to a three-year contract Friday. The Central Florida product was the team's second seventh-round choice in last April's draft and the last of Cincinnati's nine picks.

A three-year starter and team captain for Central Florida, Patterson (6-feet-2, 271 pounds) had at least nine sacks in each of the past three seasons and finished with 30 ½ sacks for his career with the Golden Knights, one short of equaling the school record. His 59 ½ career tackles for loss is a school record.

Patterson's signing leaves the Bengals with four remaining unsigned picks as players are due to report to Georgetown (Ky.) College for training camp on Sunday. Those still yet to be signed are: No. 2 pick guard Eric Steinbach, No. 3 wide receiver Kelley Washington and the team's two fourth-round choices, cornerback Dennis Weathersby and fullback Jeremi Johnson.

Gary Uberstine, the agent for Weathersby, was out of the office on Friday but a spokesman for Uberstine said while no agreement is expected to be reached on Friday, both sides are working at making sure the Oregon State product will be on the field Monday morning for the team's first practice.

Steinbach's agent, Jack Bechta, said early in the week that he was very encouraged by the way talks between he and the Bengals had progressed and expected his client to be signed in time for camp. The players selected before and after Steinbach, Washington and Weathersby have all been signed by their clubs, so the market parameters for each player have been narrowed significantly.

One thing that could be snagging negotiations is the length of deals, especially in Steinbach's case. After seeing how Washington was able to successfully raid the New York Jets of some of their restricted free agents – players whose contracts have ran out but have less than four years of NFL experience – many teams are looking at signing higher round picks to longer deals and compensating them with more bonus money upfront.

Agents and players are generally against longer deals, instead wanting to get onto the open free agent market as soon as possible for the chance at a more lucrative second contract.

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