Bucs Get QB...Make that Two
Its quarterbacks galore in Tampa.
The Bucs signed free agent quarterback Jeff Garcia today to a two-year, $7-million contract that could reach as high as $14.5-million with escalators. But then the Bucs announced a shocker when it was revealed by general manager Bruce Allen the proposed trade for Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer was indeed finalized.
Allen acknowledged Plummer's wishes to retire, adding the team knew about Plummer's stance before it executed the trade. But Allen said discussions with Plummer will continue with hopes he will have a change of heart. Speculation has already begun that the Bucs could attempt to trade Plummer, though Allen rejected that theory. Allen did acknowledge the possibility that Plummer will sit out 2007, which might be a foreshadowing of a retirement.
Just 24 hours earlier, word spread through the league that the trade was dead because of Plummer's decision to retire rather than start anew with a new team. But the Bucs went forward with the deal anyhow, giving up what the Broncos say is a conditional draft pick in 2008.
Garcia, 37, had been negotiating with the Oakland Raiders, too. But those talks reached an impasse Friday and Garcia was believed to be considering offers from Tampa Bay and the Houston Texans.
The Bucs finally are willing to pay Garcia like a starter, something they have not done the past three offseasons. Garcia's deal could reach its maximum value if he reaches a variety of incentives, mainly leading the Bucs to the playoffs in 2007 and 2008. But he wasn't guaranteed a starting job.
"I do want to start," Garcia said. "I believe I can contribute to this team."
Coach Jon Gruden told Garcia he be part of a "wide-open" quarterback battle when training camp arrives in July, Garcia said.
Garcia will compete with quarterback Chris Simms.
Garcia had expressed an interest to play for a team that has a chance to become a playoff contender. The Bucs went 4-12 last season but entered free agency $24-million under the salary cap and have been players in the free agent market.
Gruden has always believed Garcia would be a nice fit in his offense because of his ability to move in the pocket and make plays with his arm and his feet.
Last season, Garcia proved he is still very effective after taking over for injured quarterback Donovan McNabb and leading the Eagles to an NFC East title. He was stunned when the Eagles decided not to offer him a contract, signing backup A.J. Feeley to a three-year extension instead.
Now, he has his payday and realistic shot at earning a starting job.