The not so encouraging list of available quarterbacks grew by one on Monday when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did the inevitable and cut ties with ex-Bear Brian Griese, reducing to four the number of signal callers they have on their roster.
Griese instantly becomes the best option for the Bears should they choose to bring in a veteran quarterback. At this point, less than three weeks from training camp, it appears they are confident casting their lot with Caleb Hanie as the backup to Jay Cutler. Brett Basanez is also in the mix but from the looks of things during the offseason program, Hanie will be in position to be the No. 2. The Bears are carrying just three quarterbacks to camp and that's not a problem because when they've had a fourth QB in the past he's done a lot of standing around.
"He wants to play,'' Griese's agent Ralph Cindrich said by text message.
Griese never showed for the Bucs' offseason program after beating out Jeff Garcia for the job there last season. He's been residing in Denver where he's had the opportunity to reconnect with good friend Kyle Orton. CIndrich said he has not spoken with the Bears, and we doubt the two parties reconnect. The upside of bringing Griese in would be that he already knows the offense even if he wasn't a fan of it when he was here.
The downside would be the Bears might not ever find out what they have in Hanie. If you bring in Griese, he's going to be the No. 2 and that would leave Hanie in a position where it's difficult to develop. It could be the Bears found a talent when they signed Hanie as an undrafted free agent a year ago. He possesses a strong arm and showed a knack for making plays and avoiding pressure in the pocket during preseason last year. It will be interesting to see how he performs in what should be ample playing time come August. It could be he's a better option than most of the available players, a list that includes J.P. Losman, Cleo Lemon, Gus Frerotte, Jamie Martin, Quinn Gray and Brooks Bollinger, among others. The Bears won't know unless he receives the opportunity.
Griese, 34, played in seven games for the Bears in 2007 when he passed for 1,803 yards. He led a stirring comeback at Philadelphia that afterward produced an awkward situation between himself and offensive coordinator Ron Turner over who was calling the plays when the quarterback headset was not functioning. He proved to be good enough to beat the Bears last season at Soldier Field when he threw for 407 yards on 68 attempts in a 27-24 Tampa Bay victory.
Looking at the list of available passers, Griese might be able to bide his time knowing someone should have a need before the end of the summer.