Plan "C"

The Bears would neither confirm nor deny that they have asked for and received permission to negotiate with the agent for Cleveland Browns quarterback Tim Couch.

But Browns spokesman Todd Stewart said Bears GM Jerry Angelo contacted Browns coach Butch Davis on Wednesday regarding Couch, whose agent, Tom Condon, has been negotiating fitfully with the Green Bay Packers for nearly a month with little progress. Couch, the first overall pick in the 1999 draft, was replaced as the starter after Cleveland acquired veteran Jeff Garcia.

Couch is due $15.6 million over the next two seasons but will not get nearly that much from any team. He was first given permission to work out a trade with the Packers, but those negotiations have stalled.

Enter the Bears - maybe. No one in the organization has even hinted that Rex Grossman, whom Angelo drafted in the first round last year (22nd overall), is not entrenched as the starter. While it's very possible Couch would consent to playing behind the 34-year-old Favre for a short while, it's highly unlikely he would accept a backup role to the 23-year-old Grossman, and that's the only job available with the Bears.

"We have our quarterback," Bears coach Lovie Smith said when the topic of Kurt Warner's possible free-agency was broached last week. "Rex Grossman is our quarterback."

After the Bears drafted Ohio State's Craig Krenzel in the fifth round Sunday, director of college scouting Greg Gabriel said: "We assume Rex is going to be the guy for a long time."

Asked specifically about Couch on Sporting News Radio by James Brown on Thursday, Smith said: "Every guy that becomes available you look at. However, we like who we have right now. We're not openly pursuing any quarterback. We think we have the guy to lead us in our system right now. Tim is a good quarterback just like Kurt Warner and Kerry Collins. All those guys are good quarterbacks, but they're not the fit for us. We like who we have."

In 62 appearances, 59 of them starts, Couch has completed 1,025 of 1,714 attempts, for 11,131 yards, with 64 touchdown passes, 67 interceptions and a passer rating of 75.1.

Bear Report Top Stories