When the Cincinnati Bengals let backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski leave in free agency, most didn’t think much of it.
The Bengals were expected to draft a prospect that would fit their system just in case starting quarterback Andy Dalton was injured.
Gradkowski filled in admirably for Dalton in two seasons with the Bengals. Most fans remember Gradkowski’s game winning touchdown pass to a streaking A.J. Green in the 2011 season opener.
Now, Bengals fans can only hope that Gradkowski doesn’t do the same to his newest division rival. At the start of free agency he signed a three-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bengals didn’t make a hard push to re-sign him, but instead of waiting until the NFL Draft to find a backup, they signed two quarterbacks that other teams didn’t want.
The backup position got younger with the acquisitions of Josh Johnson and John Skelton; but did it improve? Johnson was in the arena league for part of last season and has only started five games in his NFL career. Skelton was released by the Arizona Cardinals and mostly ineffective during his tenure with the Cardinals. He has thrown 25 interceptions to Gradkowski’s 24 despite playing in 16 fewer games.
Skelton does have the physical traits scouts look for in a quarterback at 6’6”, 244 pounds. He didn’t have much of a running game with the Cardinals, and the offensive line didn’t do him any favors either.
Gradkowski knew the Bengals offense and was close with many of his teammates including wide receiver Andrew Hawkins.
This move isn’t the flashy draft pick that some fans were clamoring for, but it’s a decision fans will have to live with.