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Bengals, Westbrook try to find final fit

6/10/2002 - 6-10-02, 5:05 p.m.

Updated: 6-10-02, 10:15 p.m.


Even before the negotiations started Monday, the Bengals and free-agent wide receiver Michael Westbrook agreed it was a good fit.

If it can’t be Darnay Scott, the Bengals are seeking a healthy veteran big play receiver. Westbrook, the fourth pick in the 1995 NFL Draft who led the NFL in yards per catch four years later, is looking for a team that plays on grass and needs help in the passing game. And it doesn’t hurt that his native Detroit is just a four-hour drive from the Paul Brown Stadium grass.

Westbrook and the Bengals liked each other on a first-impression Monday, but it’s going to take some time in the fitting room if a deal gets done.

“I think money might be a problem initially,” said Steve Zucker, Westbrook’s agent, after he opened talks with the club Monday afternoon. “Just because he’s been on the market for three months and it’s June doesn’t mean he’s going to come in at a low number.

“But he did like his visit, he’s impressed with the Bengals, and, we’re going to work at it,” Zucker said.

Some of the issues the sides have to attack are the recent deals of Keenan McCardell ($2.5 million per year) and Derrick Alexander ($1.7 million per) and where Westbrook fits. The one thing the Bengals do know is that those deals show how pricey the $3 million is that is due Scott this year in salary and signing bonus.

Still, Westbrook was upbeat about a future with the Bengals.

“I think I’ll be seeing you again, probably,” said a smiling Westbrook as Bengals rookie quarterback Gavin Hoffman left the building.

Hoffman threw about 10 passes to Westbrook during Monday’s workout before he jumped on a plane back to Detroit. But the Bengals didn’t need to see any of them to convince themselves to start talking to Zucker about a contract.

All they needed was about 4.35 seconds, which is what one of the stopwatches said Westbrook ran the 40-yard dash on the quicksand of the PBS Astroturf field.

“Can I put the rumors to rest that I’ve lost a step?” Westbrook asked.

Zucker and Duke Tobin, the Bengals director of pro/college personnel, had preliminary discussions after the workout in which they talked about a contract “in general terms.”

“I think he’s waiting to talk to Michael and then he’s going to put something together for us to take a look at,” Tobin said. “We’re both working on it.”

The 6-3, 220-pound Westbrook, a workout warrior with a karate black belt, cut an imposing figure and the

fact he ran so quickly on the reconstructed knee he tore up in the second game of the 2000 season answered the biggest questions about his health.

With new coach Marty Schottenheimer looking to make No. 1 draft pick Rod Gardner the No. 1 receiver last season, Westbrook led the Redskins with 57 catches, and each had four touchdowns. After the season, Westbrook turned down a chance to return to Washington for what was believed to be a deal near the minimum.

Another reason it’s a fit in Cincinnati is that receivers coach Steve Mooshagian barely had to explain any of the routes or splits while conducting the workout.

“This is very similar to what he had with Norv Turner in Washington through the ’99 season,” Mooshagian said. “He could come in and pick up the offense faster than somebody else who hasn’t been in this system. He’s an impressive guy.”

If his legs answered the questions about his health, Westbrook’s maturity patiently answered the questions about his temperament. Even though the Redskins beat reporters have found him to be delightful and cooperative as he got older, his temperament has been a topic ever since his celebrated practice fight with running back Stephen Davis five seasons ago. Westbrook took offense to what observers thought was an off-hand remark, and he not only punched Davis, but continued to flail away on top of him on the ground.

“(The fight) might have had its reasons, but you have to have some type of sense about you,” Westbrook said. “Knowing the repercussions of your actions and having an understanding about that, which I didn’t. I was doing things my way, but I figured it out. Even if in my mind I had a valid reason to do what I did, it doesn’t make it right. I was young.”

During his first four years in the NFL, Westbrook’s quarterback in Washington was old friend Gus Frerotte. Frerotte came to the Bengals a month ago and the possible reunion intrigues both men.

In three full seasons with Frerotte from ’95-97, Westbrook caught 102 balls and five touchdowns for 15.5 yards per catch.

“I’m looking forward to playing with Gus again, We did pretty well as young guys at the Redskins,” Westbrook said. “I’m not with them yet officially, but the prospect of playing with Gus again is kind of exciting. He liked to throw me the ball.”

Frerotte has no problems remembering why

“The guy’s a great athlete. He will go up and get the ball, I’ll tell you that,” Frerotte said. “He’d be a good fit here because he can get the ball down the field.”

Both men admitted not seeing eye to eye all the time when they were younger, but the last time they played together for any length of time was 1997.

“Young guys not fully understanding the game, not understanding the political side of it,” Westbrook said. “As we got older, you decide not to fight about everything and you just want to get the job done.”

Frerotte, a rookie in 1994, knows he was young, too.

“I heard he’s matured a lot and I guess everyone does,” Frerotte said. “Michael is a good dude and it would be nice to have him here because he is a good player.”

Bengals President Mike Brown and head coach Dick LeBeau said it’s not a foregone conclusion that Scott would be cut if the Bengals sign Westbrook.

“Having another veteran receiver gives us options we didn’t have before,” Brown said.

But Scott making $3 million this year if he stays is a high number on a market in which McCardell and Alexander just consummated deals. Westbrook said other teams have called him, but the Bengals are his top priority at the moment and he has put a trip to Jacksonville on hold.

“That's down near the water somewhere and this is up near my family (in Detroit),” Westbrook said. “It's a better fit for me."

In seven seasons, Westbrook has 277 catches, 4,260 yards, a 15.3 average, and 24 touchdowns. In seven seasons, Scott has 386 catches, 5,975 yards, 15.5 average, and 36 touchdowns.

And just for kicks, they have the same birthday from the Watergate Summer: July 7, 1972.

Copyright ©1999-2002 Cincinnati Bengals, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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I know some people may be getting a bit tired of the Westbrook threads, but I couldn't let this one slip by. Some of the quotes in here from him and Gus are funny. What I can't get over is how good he still thinks he is, and how his agent can't give one interview to a reporter without mentioning how Mike won't play for the minimum.

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Good Heavens. I have nothing against Westbrook, but that is the rosiest picture of the guy I have ever read. Workout warrior? Gus liked to throw him the ball? If there was ever a Redskin QB that didn't like throwing the ball to Westy it was Gus. A good route runner?

... we ARE talking about Michael Westbrook, right?

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What struck me was how much better Scott's numbers were over the same period. Scott has, if I'm not mistaken, also missed some time due to injury and had questionable QB talent throwing to him, so the comparison seems fair.

Sounds like Westy just wants to go home.

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In seven seasons, Westbrook has 277 catches, 4,260 yards, a 15.3 average, and 24 touchdowns. In seven seasons, Scott has 386 catches, 5,975 yards, 15.5 average, and 36 touchdowns.


Thats interesting that a guy could get 109 more catches, 1700 more yards and 12 more TD's than Mike over the same period of time and he's considered the same athelete as Mike. Lets look at the averages.

Rec Yards TD's

Mike 40 608 3

Scott 55 853 5

Given neither is expressing pro bowl numbers for a number one reciever, but dont you see the scales tipping a little in the favor of Scott? The only thing I think that these stats show is that Mike was not the best reciever in that class. At least Scott is averaging near 1000 yards per season. Mike's average is closer to 500 yards per season.

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In fairness to Westbrook, that article is inaccurate - Scott has played 8 seasons. Couple that with the 1.5-2 seasons Westbrook has missed due to injury (which is a strike against Westbrook and I don't know how much Scott has missed), and those numbers don't seem so lopsided.

Having said that, much more was expected of Westbrook than was ever given.

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Originally posted by OrangeSkin

Injury prone is a problem in itself. Saying that he'd have better numbers if he wasn't injured so much is like saying I'd be a better football player if I wasn't so damn lazy.

Which I noted was a strike against Westbrook.:cheers:

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"If it can’t be Darnay Scott, the Bengals are seeking a healthy veteran big play receiver. Westbrook, the fourth pick in the 1995 NFL Draft who led the NFL in yards per catch four years later, is looking for a team that plays on grass and needs help in the passing game."

Oh my God... we are passing on a HEALTHY VETERAN BIG PLAY RECEIVER!!!!! Are we talking about the same Westbrook here?

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The latest on Mr. Westbrook and the Bengals.

Bengals Still Negotiating with Westbrook Bengals.com reports that the Cincinnati Bengals and free agent WR Michael Westbrook (Redskins) are still negotiating a contract that would bring Westbrook to the team. Westbrook's agent does not believe that a deal will be completed by the end of this week, however. Westbrook does not have any trips planned to other teams, but he may visit with the Jacksonville Jaguars next week.

A week? Sorely tempted to go with WTF? but I won't.

Okay. Went to the Bengals site for the full story. Here the site.


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Westbrook is such a ****y $hit relative to the numbers he's put up thus far in his career and his numerous gaffes.

GD-it, I'm glad he's gone.

What an appropriate destination for Mike. The Bengals. Yes.

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Quote of the offseason:

BENGALS: The team made an offer to WR Michael Westbrook on Tuesday, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Co-director of player personnel Duke Tobin said that the interest is mutual. “It all comes down to money,” Tobin said. “We're trying to find a deal that we both can be happy with. If we do that, we'll come to an agreement. If not, then we won't.”(Frankly, we still don't see the big deal here. Westbrook's seven years in the league can be summed up as follows: turd, turd, turd, turd, satisfactory, turd, turd.)


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