Although he’s under contract with Tampa Bay for the 2006 season, quarterback Brian Griese’s days as a Buccaneer could be numbered.
The Bucs, who need to trim as much as $19 million by March 3 in order to be in compliance with the NFL-mandated salary cap, are interested in reworking Griese’s contract, which calls for him to have a $7.083 million salary cap value in 2006.
However, Griese’s agent, Ralph Cindrich, told Pewter Report on Friday that neither he nor his client were prepared to renegotiate his current deal unless a reworked contract was mutually beneficial in nature.
“There hasn’t been any contact, although I did have an e-mail come to me from [Bucs general manager] Bruce [Allen] today in response to my thoughts being related to Brian being a likely free agent,” Cindrich said. “I think they’d like to talk, and if the talking involves parameters that talk about compensation levels that were negotiated last year, there would be a reasonable chance of getting something done. If it’s something less than that, we’re not going to waste our time. We’re going to be straight up with that.”
Last year, Cindrich and Allen spent countless hours at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis working on a restructured contract for Griese. Their hard work paid off as Griese signed a five-year, $32 million contract that included a $4 million signing bonus.
While they will both attend the NFL Combine in Indianapolis next week, Cindrich said he has no plans to meet with Allen in an attempt to rework Griese’s contract for the second straight year.
“That definitely will not happen,” Cindrich said of meeting with Allen next week. “We will, however, always visit with Bruce. We’ll always talk with him about anything because I have that amount of respect for him and Coach Gruden. But that’s where it ends.”
Griese, who turns 31 next month, has started 72 of the 75 games he’s played in the NFL since entering the league with the Denver Broncos in 1998. He’s completed 63.1 percent of his career passes and thrown for 16,344 yards and tossed 103 touchdowns and 78 interceptions.
During his two seasons with the Bucs, Griese has completed 67 percent of his passes and thrown for 3,768 yards while tossing 27 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
Griese helped get the Bucs off to a 5-1 start in 2005 by completing 64.4 percent of his passes for 1,136 yards and tossing seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. However, Griese’s 2005 campaign was cut short when he tore ligaments in his left knee in a Week 6 game vs. the Miami Dolphins.
According to Cindrich, Griese’s surgically-repaired knee is close to 100 percent healthy.
“He’s ready to play when free agency starts,” said Cindrich. “If it’s not 100 percent, it’s pretty damn close.”
While they want to keep Griese on their roster, the Bucs are also interested in signing QB Chris Simms, 25, to a long-term contract. Simms, who completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,035 yards and tossed seven touchdowns and seven interceptions en route to going 6-4 as a starter in place of Griese, is scheduled to become a restricted free agent on Mar. 3.
Ideally, Tampa Bay would like to bring both Griese and Simms into the 2006 season and have them compete for the starting job. But the chances of that scenario actually coming to fruition don’t appear to be good.
“If I were involved with the club I’d want that in the worst way,” Cindrich said of bringing both Griese and Simms into the 2006 season. “We have a contract, and we just renegotiated it last year. We took into consideration a lot of variables. We are where we are. If that needs to be changed in a form in some ways, then that’s worth looking at. Otherwise, there’s not going to be a lot to talk about.
“I know Brian would really like to be there. I’d love for him to remain there. It’s a great situation, I believe, for all. But the fact of the matter is you have two quarterbacks, and if you’re placing your future in the hands of a young one, who is a good one, then that’s the choice you make, and we’re not going to be hanging around.”
Tampa Bay has three quarterbacks — Tim Rattay, Luke McCown and Jared Allen — under contract for the 2006 season.
If they do indeed release Griese in a cap-related move, the Bucs will free up approximately $4.55 million.
League rumors have suggested that Detroit and Baltimore could be interested in Griese should he become available.
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