2011 NFL Free Agency: Bruce Gradkowski Agrees to Deal with Cincinnati Bengals

Matt Gray@mattkgrayContributor IJuly 27, 2011

PITTSBURGH - NOVEMBER 21:  Bruce Gradkowski #5 of the Oakland Raiders drops back to pass during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 21, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

It has been reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN that the Cincinnati Bengals have come to an agreement with former Oakland Raider Bruce Gradkowski.

It comes as no surprise, with Jay Gruden on board as offensive coordinator and Gradkowski being a veteran of the Gruden brothers' stint in Tampa Bay. It became a simple case of connect the dots.

Gradkowski, who will sign with the team Friday, has agreed to a principle two-year deal. Jay Gruden has referred to Gradkowski as "Tough, smart and knows the system." 

Gradkowski was widely seen as the sensible pick for the Cincinnati Bengals. With Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis confident to hand the starting job to Andy Dalton following the Carson Palmer saga, it seems as though Gradkowski will play mentor to the Bengals second-round pick. 

On Tuesday morning, both Lewis and Brown expressed faith in Andy Dalton, with Brown commenting, 

"We'll look for a veteran, but we have a good, young draft pick in Andy Dalton; we like him, we think he is promising for our future. It won't be altogether easy for him all the time, but we're going to put him in there and if he can do it we're going to go with him. I hope he can manage it. He's a feisty guy. He's a poised young guy and I think you'll find him attractive as a person and as a player. You'll like him. Wait and see."

With the Bengals noticeably absent in the market for available big name quarterbacks such as Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, Kyle Orton and company, it seems as though their move this evening is colored by a belief that Dalton can be the team's starter.

The Bengals certainly had the cap room to try and draw a big name, but seem to have consciously decided that it wasn't necessary to proceed in such a manner.

While Gradkowski is unlikely to get Bengals fans enthused about the 2011 season, he will provide an important supporting role to Dalton. It is widely known that Gruden favors his brother's verbage-heavy style of play calling and Gradkowski is all too familiar with it. That will undoubtedly help Dalton prepare, in a truncated offseason, and be as ready as he can be when September comes around.

Gradkowski is likely to play a similar role to the one he played this year in support of Jason Campbell, and will hope that if he does see significant playing time he will not suffer the same fate as his injury-plagued 2010 season. The journeyman's playing time will hinge on how Dalton handles the pressures of his rookie season and more importantly how much room for error Lewis and Co. are willing to afford the rookie.

Gradkowski has 20 NFL starts under his belt with a 6-14 record. Two of those six victories came against Marvin Lewis' Bengals in Tampa in 2006 and Oakland in 2009.