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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Cashing in on Plummer



   Even if Jake Plummer refuses to play another down of football, the Bucs will probably try to profit from the deal.

   Tampa Bay will give Denver a seventh round pick in the 2008 draft if Plummer does not play before then. If he renounces his retirement within the next 13 months, the Bucs will owe the Broncos a fourth rounder.

   What's unclear is whether Plummer had a forfeiture clause in his contract with the Broncos or if the terms of the trade designated Tampa Bay as the franchise to recover some of his original signing bonus.

   Plummer has three years left on a $40-million contract he signed with the Broncos in 2003. His original signing bonus was based on a seven-year deal. If Plummer plays less than that, he could be asked to pay back the pro-rated portion of that signing bonus. One report on estimates it at $7-million.

   So for a seventh-round pick, the Bucs could potentially net up to $7-million. Again, it's unclear if the Bucs would have to share any of this money with the Broncos. They also could potentially earn some savings on their salary cap.

   Mostly, the bundle of cash could go into the pocket of the Glazer family. That's a great deal for the Bucs owners and general manager Bruce Allen, who have a history of going after signing bonuses. Allen did it when receiver Keenan McCardell refused to play and eventually was traded to San Diego. McCardell lost a grievance and had to repay $1-million of his pro-rated signing bonus.

   The difference is this: The Bucs didn't pay a dime to Plummer. The bill for the signing bonus was footed by the Broncos. So you can expect the NFLPA to file a grievance against the Bucs if they try to recover any money from Plummer.

   Short of Plummer actually playing for the Bucs or Tampa Bay trading him to another team for more compensation than they gave Denver, it's a little fuzzy how this deal makes the Bucs a better football team.

   It can make the Glazers richer and Allen will look like the smartest GM in the room. But would it be more about getting over on Plummer than getting better?

   Plummer reiterated last Friday at an impromptu news conference that he is retired. End of story, he says. He wanted to say it publicly so reporters could look into his eyes and listen to his words.

   If you ever doubted the NFL is a business, not a game, consider what the Bucs could do to Jake Plummer. He never wore their uniform, they never actually paid him a dime, yet they could make him pay for his decision not to play. By taking a knee, the Bucs will throw Plummer for an even bigger loss. 

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 2:44pm]


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