CINCINNATI — The Bengals reached an agreement with quarterback Bruce Gradkowski on Wednesday, giving them an experienced passer who knows their new offensive system and will help rookie Andy Dalton develop.
The 28-year-old quarterback was in Tampa from 2008-09 with Jay Gruden, who was hired as the Bengals' offensive coordinator in February. The Bengals drafted Dalton in the second round in April, but he's been unable to learn Gruden's system from the coaches because of the NFL lockout.
Teams aren't allowed to announce deals until Saturday. After agreeing to terms, Gradkowski tweeted: "BENGAL fans let's get ready to rock n' roll!!! Can't wait for this great opportunity!!"
Owner Mike Brown indicated on Tuesday that Dalton would get a chance to start, though the rookie has a lot of learning to do in only a few weeks.
Carson Palmer has told the team he would retire rather than play the last four seasons of his contract with Cincinnati, which has two winning records in the past 20 years. Palmer asked for a trade, but Brown insisted on Tuesday that he won't deal the franchise quarterback as a matter of principle.
Palmer's younger brother, Jordan, is the only other experienced quarterback on the roster. He became the offense's leader in the off-season, organizing workouts near his home in California and leading the unit through voluntary workouts for two weeks in Cincinnati.
The Bengals got Gruden's playbook during the one day the lockout was lifted in April, allowing players to have contact with coaches. Jordan Palmer learned the playbook and helped install the system during the voluntary workouts. Dalton participated in the workouts, giving him a taste of what to expect.
Gradkowski was Tampa Bay's sixth-round pick out of Toledo in 2006. He started 11 games as a rookie, his career high. He also played one year in Cleveland and the last two in Oakland. A pair of shoulder injuries limited him to four starts last season. He completed 83 of 157 passes for 1,059 yards and five touchdowns with seven interceptions.