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NFL Free Agency: Gradkowski to Sign with Bengals; Season Looking Brighter?

New Bengals QB Bruce Gradkowski
New Bengals QB Bruce GradkowskiEzra Shaw/Getty Images
Kyle StrittholtCorrespondent IJuly 28, 2011

After Bengals owner Mike Brown expressed that he would not trade Carson Palmer, there were some questions as to who would be under center this season. I found it highly unlikely for rookie quarterback Andy Dalton to be thrown into the starting role with limited time to prepare, and it is not head coach Marvin Lewis’ style.

When Palmer was drafted by the Bengals, Lewis gave him time to progress and kept a veteran mentor, Jon Kitna, to guide his progression. If Lewis had made Palmer the starting quarterback as soon as he signed with the team, it would be hard to believe he would have as much success as he did.

Since Brown refuses to trade Palmer the question was, where would the Bengals find a veteran mentor for Andy Dalton? The Bengals answered that question today as the team came into agreement with Bruce Gradkowski from the Oakland Raiders.

Gradkowski has played for three teams in the last five years, and has some experience with Bengals new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. The most games he played in a season were 13 back in 2006 for Gruden and the Buccaneers. In his career he’s been primarily a backup, and statistically he has not been impressive.

Gradkowski was an accurate quarterback in college, but it hasn’t carried over into his NFL career. In his two seasons he started for Toledo, he averaged 70 percent completion his first year starting. In his second year he dropped to 62 percent. While being a quarterback in the NFL he has barely reached above 50 percent in his completion rating.

This is a quarterback that probably isn’t favored by fans for the Bengals to sign, but it’s not a big surprise. The Bengals take the most gambles on unproven players in the NFL, and sometimes it works but most of the time it doesn’t.

Will Gradkowski help the Bengals make the playoffs this season? It’s highly doubtful that he will. He previously played for the Buccaneers, the Browns and the Raiders. He hasn’t seen the weapons that are in the city of Cincinnati. I think that his numbers will be career bests, but I don’t think he will be the savior of the franchise.

The Bengals as a whole have a lot of new and exciting players on the roster. They had a successful draft; they have players just reaching potential at the end of last season, and the addition of free agents. I think the team may surprise some critics this year, but I don’t think they will be better than Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

Anticipation is high for this NFL season, let us just hope that the Bengals can finally give us something to be proud of.   

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