'Gades sitting on Couch

Renegades VP of football operations Forrest Gregg (left) has placed former NFL No. 1 overall draft...

Renegades VP of football operations Forrest Gregg (left) has placed former NFL No. 1 overall draft pick Tim Couch on its negotiation list. (Ottawa Sun File/Jason Ransom)

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

The Renegades have added another high-profile quarterback to their wish list.

The Sun has learned the club placed former NFL No. 1 overall draft pick Tim Couch on its negotiation list over the weekend.

"We need to see if there's any mutual interest, where his health is at, where he is in his career and what he's been doing," Renegades VP of football operations Forrest Gregg said yesterday.

"It would be up to him personally, but I know people who coached him in the pros and in college. We can share information from there."

The Renegades are also trying to acquire the negotiation rights for Ottawa-bred pivot Jesse Palmer, who was cut last weekend by the New York Giants after four seasons there, from the Alouettes.

The 28-year-old Couch had shoulder and elbow surgery in January, but worked out with the Giants during camp in August.

As the first overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft by expansion Cleveland, Couch assumed the label of franchise player who had the talent to lead long-suffering Browns fans to a league championship.

But it didn't work out, and Couch got the boot from Cleveland after five seasons at the end of 2003.

Green Bay picked him up and Couch hoped to become Brett Favre's backup, but he was cut before the start of the 2004 season.

DRAFTED AHEAD OF MCNABB

Despite the checkered NFL past, Gregg said Couch could be a good fit in the CFL.

"Look where he's been and what he has done," said Gregg. "He was the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, he had a great college career and he knows what the game's all about."

Following a standout NCAA career at the University of Kentucky, Couch was picked ahead of players like Donovan McNabb, Edgerrin James, Ricky Williams, Torry Holt, Daunte Culpepper and Jevon Kearse in the 1999 draft.

It's believed the Renegades would make a pitch for Couch or another marquee QB if talks break down to bring Palmer back to his home town.

CFL insiders told the Sun on Saturday that the Renegades would be willing to make Palmer the highest-paid player in the CFL if that's what it takes to get him to sign with the team.

But Palmer, 26, will exhaust all NFL avenues before making a commitment north of the border.

The speculation of new quarterbacks has brought the long-term future of Kerry Joseph with the Renegades into question.

Joseph is in the midst of a slump in which he has thrown eight interceptions during three straight losses, including last Thursday's 61-27 debacle against the B.C. Lions.

Those setbacks have dropped the Renegades to 5-6 on the season and have allowed West Division clubs Calgary and Saskatchewan to catch Ottawa in the overall league standings.

EYE TO FUTURE, NOT QUICK FIX

Even if the Renegades finish the regular season in third place in the East, they would miss the playoffs for the fourth straight year if Calgary or Saskatchewan have better records.

But Gregg said the Renegades are looking at quarterbacks like Palmer and Couch for the future, and not for a quick fix to the team's current situation.

"Kerry Joseph is a fine quarterback and I think he's just going to get better," said Gregg. "He hasn't played a lot in this league, but he's done a lot of great things. He's a leader and our players have a lot of respect for him, and I know our coaches do too."

The Renegades return to practice this afternoon to prepare for Friday's home game against Winnipeg.


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