Griese uncertain about payoff

Blake-sized deal wouldn't be enough, his agent says, to lure Broncos QB here

Pro Football

March 12, 2003|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

If Denver's Brian Griese became available, he would likely top the Ravens' quarterback free-agent list. At this point, the feeling is not mutual.

Ralph Cindrich, the agent for Griese, said yesterday that his client would not consider the Ravens under their current asking price for a starting quarterback. The team recently offered a three-year deal worth between $1.5 million to $2 million a season to Jeff Blake, who is also represented by Cindrich.

Griese, who started 51 games the past four seasons, is expected to be released by the Broncos after June 1 in a salary cap-related move and has drawn interest from the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears. Turning 28 on Tuesday, Griese is scheduled to make $4.75 million this season, and Denver would save $2.4 million off this season's cap by cutting him in three months.

"Contract-wise, it would be prohibitive" to look at the Ravens, Cindrich said. "Under those same parameters, there would not be any interest in Baltimore."

It is uncertain whether the Ravens would offer more since they will not guarantee the starting job to any quarterback. Ravens coach Brian Billick said last week that whatever free agent is signed will have an open competition with Chris Redman, who will earn $1.3 million this season.

Billick has declined to comment on Griese because he is still under contract with the Broncos. League observers predicted that the Ravens would have no interest in Griese because he has a demeanor similar to Elvis Grbac, who had a reputation of being a loner. But league sources indicated the Ravens consider Griese's tough situation in Denver different than Grbac's troubled history.

But that interest seems to be one-sided at this moment.

Cindrich said Griese's stance is business-related and not connected with the abrupt split with Blake and the Ravens. It was only six days ago when the Ravens pulled their offer to Blake off the table because the veteran free-agent quarterback had decided to visit other teams.

Griese told the Associated Press yesterday that he's interested in signing with the Dolphins as the backup to Jay Fiedler if he can't land a starting job elsewhere.

"It's a city where I grew up, and the team is very good," said Griese, whose father quarterbacked the Dolphins in the 1970s. He told AP that he'll soon talk by phone with Dolphins offensive coordinator Norv Turner.

But Griese's agent also likes the Ravens. "It's a great organization for quarterbacks," Cindrich said. "It would be an exceptional opportunity for [Griese] to work with Coach Billick.

"I would put a quarterback in Baltimore in a heartbeat. I thought it was a great place last year. I think so this year."

The Ravens have been preaching patience with their quarterback situation. They have decided not to aggressively pursue Kordell Stewart and are resigned to waiting how the free-agent quarterback pool pans out over the next couple of months.

Besides Griese, such backups as Minnesota's Todd Bouman, Cincinnati's Akili Smith and Miami's Ray Lucas could all be pushed out into the free-agent market over the next three months. The Ravens, who have had eight starting quarterbacks in four seasons, don't believe that adding a quarterback in June would hinder him from competing for the starting job in training camp, which begins at the end of July.

"It would be no tougher than things we've done in the past when you bring in a new guy every year," said Ravens offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh. "I'm not going to get too hung up on, `Gee, [if] we don't get somebody by June, he's not going to be ready to play.' Obviously, if it's June, it's going to be a veteran. We just have to bank on the fact that there is a carryover in the systems, and he's a quick learner."

NOTES: Backup defensive end Riddick Parker re-signed with the Ravens for a one-year deal worth the veteran minimum. He joined the Ravens in October when Marques Douglas was placed on injured reserve and finished with 29 tackles, one sack and two forced fumbles in 11 games. ... Billick may not be visiting any quarterbacks in the offseason anymore. In the past two years, he has traveled to have face-to-face meetings with Grbac, who later retired, and Blake, who later decided to visit other teams. "I was trying to show respect as me, the head coach, will get on the plane and come to you," Billick said. "I want to communicate with them. But, boy, it doesn't seem to be working. I seriously have to rethink that a little bit."

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