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Sunday, April 28
McGee rejoins Coslet -- in Cowboys' scheme

By Len Pasquarelli

Just three days after his release by the Cincinnati Bengals, veteran tight end Tony McGee has signed a three-year contract with the Cowboys, a deal that will reunite him with new Dallas offensive coordinator Bruce Coslet.


McGee will be paid a signing bonus of $400,000 and base salaries of $650,000 in 2002 and $750,000 in both 2003 and 2004. There is an incentive package that could push the value of the contract to $3 million.

McGee, who has played his entire nine-year career with the Bengals, was released Thursday as Cincinnati officials opted to go with younger players at the position. Urged by Coslet to pursue McGee, the Cowboys set up a Saturday visit with him and just as quickly reached an agreement. McGee serves as his own agent, so there was no middleman involved in the negotiations.

Coslet, of course, was either head coach or offensive coordinator in Cincinnati for much of McGee's tenure there and phoned the tight end within an hour of his release to apprise him of the Cowboys' interest. Coslet, who resigned in 2000 as Cincinnati's head coach, was hired as Dallas' coordinator three months ago.

"There's a comfort level with Bruce and that meant a lot to me," McGee said. "He really didn't have to sell me too hard."

The addition of McGee brings much-needed experience to the Dallas tight end corps, plus he knows the Coslet offensive design well and that familiarity will speed the transition.

"This was one of the positions we knew we still had to address," Cowboys coach Dave Campo told The Associated Press. "Tony is a proven veteran who can come in here and immediately help us."

McGee, 31, was the Bengals team leader in games played (136) and started (134) at the time of his release. He played in 11 games and started nine in 2001 and registered career lows in both receptions (14) and receiving yards (148) while scoring just one touchdown.

His career totals include 299 receptions for 3,795 yards and 20 touchdowns.

The former Michigan standout was a second-round selection in the 1993 draft and earned a starting job as a rookie. Until last season, when he missed the last five games of the year with a knee injury, McGee had started 14 or more games every year. In fact, he had missed just three games in his entire career until the 2001 campaign.

The release of McGee saved the Bengals $1.3 million on their 2002 salary cap. The Bengals must still count $500,000 against the spending limit for McGee, the remaining prorated share of a past signing bonus. The team is using the money saved to pursue veteran backup quarterback Gus Frerotte.

McGee had his finest season in 1995, when he caught 55 passes for 754 yards and four touchdowns, but the role of the tight end has been de-emphasized in the Bengals' offense the past several years. McGee had not caught more than 26 passes in a season since 1997 and hadn't been over 400 receiving yards since that year.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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