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Griese Signs $39 M Deal With Denver

April 11, 2001

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DENVER (AP) _ Brian Griese, who emerged last season as one of the NFL’s best young quarterbacks, agreed Wednesday to a new six-year contract with the Denver Broncos worth $39 million to $40 million.

Griese threw for 2,688 yards with 19 touchdowns and four interceptions in 10 games last season and led the NFL with a quarterback rating of 102.9. He missed six of Denver’s final seven games, including their playoff loss in Baltimore with a separated right shoulder and had reconstructive surgery on Jan. 10.

The deal includes a $12.5 million signing bonus.

``It was extremely important to get it done quickly and quietly,″ said Ralph Cindrich, Griese’s agent. ``A quarterback is a leader on the team who stands in the shoes of a coach. If there’s a problem with a contract, there’s a tendency to lose your teammates.″

Griese was a restricted free agent, meaning the Broncos could have matched any offer for him. But contract talks heated up after the Kansas City Chiefs expressed interested in Griese.

Griese, drafted in the third round by the Broncos in 1998, took over as Denver’s starter in 1999 following the retirement of John Elway. After losing four straight games to start the season, he was in and out of the lineup as the Broncos finished 6-10 and missed the playoffs after two straight Super Bowl victories under Elway.

With a season of experience, Griese matured last year on the field, leading the Broncos to 27-24 victory in a Monday night game with Oakland despite playing the second half with the separated shoulder.

But he ran into trouble off the field.

He was ticketed for drunken driving on Oct. 28 after a police officer stopped him for speeding on Interstate 25. Griese pleaded guilty last month to driving with ability impaired and received 12 months probation.

Griese hopes to be able to start throwing in the next few weeks.

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