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Griese finds a Bear market

Posted: 8:45 p.m.

Welcome to the hazards of trying to find a backup for a Pro Bowl quarterback.

Despite his attraction to the Bengals' sixth-ranked offense and their system, former Tampa Bay quarterback Brian Griese has told them he's looking for a more competitive situation than the one with Carson Palmer ahead of him. When the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday night that he had agreed to a five-year deal with the Bears, it's clear what he had in mind.

"The one thing he told me after visiting with those guys is that he didn't want to string along Marvin (Lewis) and all the coaches there," said Ralph Cindrich, Griese's agent. "He's looking for more than a year, and it was never going to be more than a year in Cincinnati because of Palmer."

Griese, 31, a former Pro Bowler and NFL passing champion who has started for three different teams, visited the Bengals on Saturday when it became clear he wasn't going to re-sign with the Buccaneers. The visit went well by all accounts, and Cindrich said his client was clearly intrigued with the idea of playing with the Bengals' many weapons as they look for insurance in case Palmer can't start the season because of his rehab from reconstructive knee surgery.

But Griese is also a guy who still thinks he can start and the Bears clearly agree. Lewis has made it clear that if a guy like Griese got the Bengals off to a 5-1 start like he did for the Bucs last season, Lewis would still turn to Palmer the minute he was healthy. The uncertainty of not knowing when Palmer is going to be back was also a factor. It doesn't even look like money was even really discussed with Griese.

"He had a great visit and was really impressed, but it's a tough situation for him," Cindrich said.

The length of the ensuing deal in Chicago is a striking example of how valuable the Bears think Griese is despite the presence of Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton.

Mason Ashe, the agent for former Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks, already indicated last week that the Bengals situation didn't fit his client because Brooks views himself as a starting quarterback.

Next on the Bengals list may well be Joey Harrington, the third pick in the 2002 draft who is on the outs in Detroit. But indications from his agents are that there is interest but a visit is not lined up yet.

Tom Mills, the agent for Jamie Martin, said he's still talking to the Bengals but he gets the impression they are going to explore all options. Martin's options in St. Louis may have dwindled with the signing of Gus Frerotte.

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