The Green Bay Packers' long pursuit of quarterback Tim Couch paid off when they agreed yesterday to a one-year contract with the former top overall draft choice.

The deal is worth about $1.2 million plus incentives and could be announced by the Packers today, said a source close to the negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity last night because Couch had not signed yet. The agreement came three days after Couch, 26, was released by the Cleveland Browns. Couch, a starter for most of his five seasons in Cleveland, is slated to back up Brett Favre.

The Packers tried for months to trade for Couch. They were willing to surrender a draft choice but didn't want to inherit the terms of his previous contract, which was to pay him a salary of $7.6 million this season, and were unable to agree to a new deal with Couch and his agent, Tom Condon. The Packers wanted Couch to sign a two-year contract with them if they were going to give up a draft pick, but Couch and Condon were adamant about a one-year deal that would enable Couch to be an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

The Browns finally tired of waiting and informed Couch's representatives last Wednesday that they would release him, saving the team $7.6 million on next season's salary cap. The move became official on Friday after the Browns, the league office and the players' association completed shuffling the paperwork necessary for Couch to drop his grievance against the team, filed when club officials told him to stay away from the team's training facilities while they tried to trade him.

The Packers were willing to agree to a one-year contract once they didn't have to give a draft selection to get Couch.

The Browns put Couch on the trading block after signing free agent Jeff Garcia in March to be their starter.

-- Mark Maske