Bucs want meeting with Plummer
The Bucs plan to continue to pressure quarterback Jake Plummer into changing his mind about retirement and hopefully coax him into reporting to training camp.
Coach Jon Gruden said Monday he is attempting to schedule a face-to-face meeting with the former Broncos quarterback. Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen are in Phoenix for the NFL owners meetings this week. Plummer played collegiately at nearby Arizona State in Tempe, but Gruden said he isn't sure where such a meeting might occur.
""We're trying to hook up with him to see if we'll have some opportunities to sit down with him face-to-face,''' Gruden said.
""Jake Plummer is hanging in the balance right now.''
Despite Plummer's announcement of his retirement on his website and at an impromptu news conference in Denver, Gruden said the 32-year-old quarterback still is considering playing next season. Plummer has not submitted his retirement papers to the NFL office.
The Bucs would like to at least have Plummer report to training camp, perhaps hoping that the competition with Jeff Garcia and Chris Simms will take over. If Plummer was released under that scenario, the Bucs might not go after his $7-million pro-rated signing bonus.
Gruden said he is hopeful Plummer will make a decision in the next few weeks.
""We're using time as a cure-all here,'' Gruden said. ""Let the dust settle a little bit and see what Jake wants to do. There's a lot of people who appear to have spoken to him or have an opinion on what's really going on. But the bottom line is he's deciding right now what he wants to do.
""He's a hell of a player, the tape I look at. All you have to do is watch the Broncos play. We'll see what happens with his situation the next couple of weeks.''
Monday marked the first time Gruden has spoken publicly about the Bucs' off-season moves, including the signing of Garcia.
""I've been trying to get (Garcia) for four years,'' Gruden said. ""It was the salary cap. We can't get him this year. We can't get him the next year.
""He's a go-getter, man. He's a pro football player. He scrapped for everything that he got.
""We were sitting in the meeting with the guys and I ripping into (Bruce) Gradkowski. "Nice throw, what are you doing?' I said, "Hey, Garcia, where were you when you were a rookie?' He said, "I was a third-string quarterback for the Calgary Stampeders making $28,000 Canadian dollars.' It's going to be a great opportunity for Bruce to get better because I think Bruce is lot like him.''
Garcia, 37, is expected to battle Simms for the starting job. Simms signed a two-year contract with the Bucs last December before the Bucs traded for Plummer and signed Garcia.
But Gruden said he expects Simms to respond well to the competition.
""It's part of the job. It's going to be competitive, I think he understands that,''' Gruden said. ""He's been hurt two of the last three seasons. No disrespect to him, but you've got to have some viable guys on your football team. Chris is going to compete. He's a great kid, he's working hard. He's got a big upside.''
And according to Gruden, the Bucs may not be done collecting quarterbacks. Tampa Bay picks fourth overall in the NFL and plans to take a long look at LSU's JaMarcus Russell and Notre Dame's Brady Quinn.
""We're going to go work out Brady Quinn here in the next couple weeks. We're going to go work out Russell,'' Gruden said. ""You never know. Jeff's 37 years old and he's a guy who has proven he can play. And Chris is coming off a serious injury. He appears to be at full strength. And Gradkowski has (11) starts. So at least we've got some guys with some good experiences, some bad experiences, indeed. But we'll see what happens.''