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Sports

Griese reaches agreement in principle with Bucs

| Thursday, March 18, 2004

TAMPA, Fla. - Brian Griese is headed for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The former Denver and Miami quarterback agreed in principle Wednesday on a three-year contract with a team that already has Brad Johnson, Jason Garrett and Chris Simms.

"It's a three-year contract, but it's structured more like a one-year deal," said agent Ralph Cindrich. "He has agreed to financial terms, but that's about all I can say at this point."

Barring a last-minute glitch, Griese could sign on Thursday _ his 29th birthday.

Griese was released this month after starting five games for the Dolphins last season. He spent the first five years of his career with Denver, starting 51 games, going 27-24.

Johnson is the incumbent in Tampa Bay. Coach Jon Gruden has said he's not unhappy with him, but that hasn't stopped the team from talking to other high-profile quarterbacks this offseason.

Jeff Garcia had discussions with Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen before signing with Cleveland last week. Garrett, a career backup who previously played for Dallas and New York Giants, joined the Bucs on Tuesday.

Griese signed a two-year contract with the Dolphins as a free agent last June, but was unable to win the starting job from Jay Fiedler. In six pro seasons, he's thrown for 12,576 yards, 76 touchdowns and 59 interceptions.

"He's a guy that's thrown 67 percent in a single season. He led the AFC in passing efficiency one year (2000) with 19 touchdowns and four interceptions. He has some background into the style of football we play," Gruden said, explaining his interest in Griese after the quarterback visited Tampa Bay's training facility Monday.

The Bucs have signed 13 players since the start of free agency, including four offensive linemen and former Oakland running back Charlie Garner.

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