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Bengals pick veteran Gradkowski as rookie QB Dalton's tutor

CINCINNATI -- The Bengals reached an agreement with quarterback Bruce Gradkowski on Wednesday, giving themselves an experienced passer who knows their new offensive system and will help rookie Andy Dalton develop.

The 28-year-old quarterback was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008 and 2009, when he worked under Jay Gruden, who was hired as the Bengals' offensive coordinator in February. The Bengals drafted Dalton in the second round in April, but he has been unable to learn Gruden's system from the coaches because of the NFL lockout.

Teams aren't allowed to sign players until Friday. After agreeing to terms, Gradkowski tweeted: "BENGAL fans let's get ready to rock n' roll!!! Can't wait for this great opportunity!!"

Bengals owner Mike Brown indicated Tuesday that Dalton would have a chance to start, though the rookie has a lot of learning to do in just a few weeks.

Veteran quarterback Carson Palmer has told the team he would retire rather than play the last four seasons of his contract with Cincinnati, which has two winning seasons in the last 20 years. Palmer asked for a trade, but Brown insisted Tuesday that he won't deal the franchise quarterback as a matter of principle.

Palmer's younger brother, Jordan, is the only other experienced quarterback on the Bengals' roster. He became the offense's leader in the offseason, organizing workouts near his home in California and leading the unit through voluntary workouts for two weeks in Cincinnati.

The Bengals got Gruden's playbook during the one day the lockout was lifted in April, allowing players to have contact with coaches. Jordan Palmer learned the playbook and helped install the system during the voluntary workouts. Dalton participated in the workouts, giving him a taste of what to expect.

Gradkowski was Tampa Bay's sixth-round pick out of Toledo in 2006. He started 11 games as a rookie, his career high. He also played one season for Cleveland Browns in 2008 and the last two with the Oakland Raiders.

Two shoulder injuries limited Gradkowski to four starts last season. He completed 83 of 157 passes for 1,059 yards and five touchdowns with seven interceptions.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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