Couch will back up Favre

Updated: June 17, 2004, 5:20 PM ET
Associated Press

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Tim Couch is eager to start learning the Green Bay Packers' version of the West Coast offense.

The quarterback, released by Cleveland last week, signed a one-year contract with the Packers on Tuesday to serve as Brett Favre's backup.

"I want to get up there as soon as possible to kind of get a crash course on the offense and learn as much as possible before training camp starts," Couch said Tuesday during a conference call. "I'm definitely behind."

Couch, 26, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 draft, is expected to be formally introduced by the Packers on Thursday. He will be in competition with 12th-year pro Doug Pederson, and third-year player Craig Nall on the depth chart.

"We'll just have to wait and see, and see how fast Tim grasps everything," said Mark Hatley, Packers vice president of football operations.

The Packers tried to trade for Couch but couldn't make a deal with the Browns. Couch's fate in Cleveland was sealed when veteran quarterback Jeff Garcia signed.

Andrew Kessler, an associate of Couch's agent, Tom Condon, said the deal with Green Bay calls for Couch to count $1.25 million against the Packers' salary cap this year, including a base salary of $625,000 and a signing bonus of $625,000.

Couch has the potential to make as much as $4 million, based on incentives. One would be met if he is on the field for at least half of the Packers' snaps. That seems unlikely since Favre has started 208 consecutive games and rarely misses playing time.

Couch said he welcomes the chance at being a backup, at least for a while.

"When I first came into the league, I was a 21-year-old kid, and I got kind of thrown right into the fire, which was a good thing (because) I wanted to be in there," said Couch, who was drafted by the expansion Browns out of Kentucky.

"But, I never had that chance to kind of step back and learn the game and look at it from a different perspective," he said.

"This will give me that chance where I can come and learn the game, be on a good football team and not have the pressure to go out and carry a franchise on my back. Just sit back and watch a Hall of Famer do it and learn."

He acknowledged his future with the Packers hinges on whether Favre decides to retire after this year.

"I want to be there longer than one year," Couch said. "We'll see where we're at at the end of the year. Right now, I'm totally set on being in Green Bay for a while."

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Couch said he is in the best shape of his life after being barred by the Browns from working out at their training facility the past couple months. He hired a personal trainer and worked out at home in Florida.

Hatley said the team plans to carry all four quarterbacks plus undrafted rookie Scott McBrien on the roster into training camp.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE