Tuesday, March 14, 2006
BY MARK CURNUTTE | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Quarterback Jon Kitna has reached agreement on a four-year contract with the Lions and will return to Detroit to begin the offseason program Monday.
“From the moment we walked in there, there was a comfort and peace,” Kitna told the Enquirer this afternoon. “We sat down with the head coach (Rod Marinelli), who is a straight-shooter.”
Kitna and his wife, Jennifer, and two oldest children accompanied him to Detroit on Saturday.
Kitna and Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz met and watched film for three hours.
“Talking with him, watching his offense, seeing the opportunity I had, they stepped up and made the commitment financially. Here (with the Bengals) it was just as a backup, period. There was no contract here.”
Kitna declined to reveal the numbers but inferred that the Lions were not paying him “backup money.”
Marinelli has said he wants to make a commitment to quarterback Joey Harrington.
“They’re still trying to sort the situation out,” Kitna said of the Lions.
Kitna said Marinelli, Martz and general manager Matt Millen all told him that they want his leadership to help turn around a losing attitude in Detroit. Kitna played a big role – on and off the field in his five seasons with the Bengals – to help change a losing attitude.
Kitna said he left a phone message this morning for starting quarterback Carson Palmer – whom he has termed his best friend on the team – but had yet to hear back from the Bengals starting quarterback. Palmer has been rehabbing from surgery to replace two left knee ligaments.
Kitna said he also has spoken with Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski, wide receivers coach Hue Jackson, tight end Reggie Kelly and wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Kitna said the coaches and former teammates all wished him well with his new team.
Kitna said the Miami Dolphins also expressed interest and wanted him to visit before he agreed to terms with the Lions.
Kitna leaves the Bengals after five seasons.. He spent the last two as a backup to Palmer after earning NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors in 2003 for the Bengals.
Kitna also visited the New York Jets on Sunday and Monday.
The Bengals are looking to sign a third healthy quarterback to work with Craig Krenzel and Doug Johnson until Palmer is able to participate after undergoing surgery Jan. 10.
Former Rams quarterback Jamie Martin is visiting today and could reach agreement with the Bengals before the end of the business day.