The NFL free-agency period is turning into a quarterback shuffle.
Elvis Grbac was the latest to cash in, signing a five-year, $30 million contract with the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday. The deal includes an $11 million singing bonus.
Tampa Bay's signing of Brad Johnson to a five-year, $28 million deal Monday set off a ripple effect throughout the league that won't stop any time soon. Other quarterbacks on the move include Jim Harbaugh, who signed with Detroit on Monday, and Ryan Leaf, who was claimed off waivers by the Bucs last week.
Baltimore outbid Cincinnati for Grbac. The move signaled the end of Trent Dilfer's stay and provided the Ravens and Grbac with what they desired.
"Winning is the only thing on his agenda -- playing in a Super Bowl and winning a Super Bowl," Grbac's agent, Jim Steiner, said.
The eight-year veteran gives the Ravens, whose offense struggled last season, hope for improvement.
"He will give us that punch we need offensively to get back to the Super Bowl," coach Brian Billick said. "I think he's got the ability to use our speed on the outside."
Also on Tuesday, free-spending San Diego signed cornerback Alex Molden to a six-year, $16.1 million contract. The Chargers also met with free-agent quarterback Doug Flutie.
Cincinnati backed out of the bidding for Grbac on Tuesday afternoon and focused its attention on three remaining quarterbacks on the market: Gus Frerotte, Jon Kitna or Dilfer, to compete with holdover Akili Smith, who lost his starting job last season to backup Scott Mitchell. The Bengals did sign free-agent defensive end Tony Williams.
Atlanta traded an undisclosed draft pick to Tampa Bay to acquire former Georgia quarterback Eric Zeier.
The Ravens were the only team negotiating with Grbac after Cincinnati dropped out of the bidding Tuesday.
Grbac threw for 28 touchdowns and 4,169 yards with Kansas City last season and earned a spot in the Pro Bowl. He initiated the talks with Baltimore by visiting the Ravens on Friday and meeting with Billick.
"He felt real good," Steiner said. "He had a great meeting with Brian Billick.
"He had an opportunity to sign with the Cincinnati Bengals that would have paid him millions more a year than this offer in the early years of the contract. But the strength of the Super Bowl champions and the possibility of getting back to the Super Bowl expeditiously were the overriding factors."
Dilfer, who won his last 11 starts with Baltimore, including a 34-7 Super Bowl victory over the New York Giants, could sign with the Bengals, who wound up with Mitchell as their starting quarterback last season.
In San Diego, the Chargers continued to bolster their defense with the signing of Molden, an unrestricted free agent from New Orleans who was the Saints' first-round draft pick in 1996. He had eight interceptions in five seasons.
In four days, the Chargers spent $71.6 million on three defensive free agents: Molden, defensive end Marcellus Wiley and Ryan McNeil.
Chargers coach Mike Riley met with Flutie, and the quarterback liked what he saw.
Riley envisions Flutie bridging the gap until Michael Vick, the likely first pick in the draft, is ready to play. Flutie, cut by Buffalo last week, would be reunited with John Butler, the former Bills general manager who brought Flutie back to the NFL three years ago.
The sides said they didn't talk about a contract because Flutie plans to visit other teams.
"I really do like the situation here," Flutie said. "I do have to make a couple of stops and look at a couple of other situations. I couldn't put a time frame on anything. We haven't started talking numbers, if we talk numbers at all."
In Minnesota, the Vikings hoped to sign Pro Bowl center Matt Birk to a five- or six-year extension. Instead, a one-year deal was hammered out.
In his first year as a starter last season, Birk went to the Pro Bowl behind Jeff Christy. Birk replaced Christy as the Vikings' starter after Christy became the league's highest-paid center when he joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"Obviously, this is where I want to be," said Birk, who made $358,000 last year. "That's no secret. I'm optimistic that we can do a long-term deal, but at least I know where I'm going to be next year."
Minnesota also signed wide receiver Joey Kent and long snapper Mitch Palmer.
Williams signed a four-year contract with Cincinnati. The 6-foot-1, 290-pound unrestricted free agent, had 21 solo tackles, 22 assists and four sacks last season with the Minnesota Vikings.
New England signed linebacker Larry Izzo, who made his mark with the Miami last season by becoming the first Dolphins special team player to be named to the Pro Bowl. He led the Dolphins with 31 special teams tackles.
In Atlanta, Zeier, who set a number of passing records with Georgia from 1991-94, will probably serve as the No. 2 quarterback behind Chris Chandler.
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