QB says he was released despite injury

Originally Published: September 24, 2004
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Quarterback Tim Couch, released by the Green Bay Packers earlier this month in the wholesale roster cutdown to the regular-season 53-player limit, on Friday filed an injury grievance against the team, ESPN.com has learned.

The maneuver, given the contention of Couch and agent Tom Condon that the first player chosen in the 1998 draft was released despite being injured, is not surprising. It means the Packers will be charged $300,000, or half of Couch's scheduled base salary for the 2004 season, against their salary cap until the grievance is resolved.

It is not yet known when a grievance hearing will be scheduled.

Last week, Couch had his right arm examined by the noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, of Birmingham, Ala., who prescribed about two to four weeks of rest. Surgery was not indicated at the time.

Couch, 27, apparently suffered through pain in his throwing arm during training camp and missed 10-12 practices as a result. The Packers said that Couch only apprised them that there was some soreness in his arm, and noted that he attributed it to lack of work in the offseason, so they did not have his arm examined.

The former Kentucky star and onetime Cleveland starter was in limbo for much of the offseason, and the Browns attempted to trade him and refused to release him outright. Eventually, the Browns did cut Couch free and, after a two-month courtship with the Packers, he signed with Green Bay, which was attempting to upgrade the backup spot on its quarterback depth chart.

In the preseason, however, Couch struggled, completing just 11 of 34 attempts for 96 yards, with no touchdown passes and no interceptions. The Packers opted to retain Doug Pederson and Craig Nall as the backups to Brett Favre, and coach Mike Sherman said he was disappointed the experiment with Couch did not work out.

Couch's five-year tenure in Cleveland essentially ended when the club signed former San Francisco starter Jeff Garcia to a four-year, $25 million contract. The market for Couch was then very slow.

At one point in the spring, Couch attempted to participate in the Browns' offseason conditioning program, but club officials requested he not use the complex. The feeling was that, if Couch was injured during a conditioning session, Cleveland could be liable for the final two seasons of his contract and his trade value would be diminished.

That impasse led Couch to file a grievance against the team. He eventually dropped the grievance as part of the agreement that led to his release by the Browns.

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.

For now at least, Couch is the third quarterback from the much ballyhooed first round of the '99 draft to be out of work, joining Akili Smith and Cade McNown in the unemployment line. The Indianapolis Colts are said to be interested in signing Couch to serve as backup to Peyton Manning, but won't do so until his arm is recovered.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.

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