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Bucs QB Garcia adamant about contract demand

TAMPA — Jeff Garcia hasn't backed off his demand for a new contract since going public with his frustrations a month ago.

In fact, the Bucs' starting quarterback is perhaps more adamant about it than ever.

Saying he might opt to skip future offseason workouts and repeatedly calling for the front office to show him some "respect," Garcia dug his heels in a bit deeper.

"There might be a time when I might have to stand up," he said Tuesday after completing a voluntary workout at One Buc Place. "I hate to do that to jeopardize my teammates because they're out here and I don't want to let them down in any sort of way. But I think at some point, you just want to see the respect from up top given."

That's where general manager Bruce Allen sits. He was unavailable for comment, but his iron-fisted negotiating style means this likely won't be settled soon. Garcia said the sides were scheduled to talk Friday, but the Bucs canceled for unexplained reasons.

Garcia is entering the final season of a contract signed in 2007. After leading the Bucs to the playoffs and appearing in the Pro Bowl, he seeks a raise from the $2-million base salary he is scheduled to earn to a figure more in line with the average starting quarterback. Most make $6-million or more. He also remains annoyed he lost more than $1-million in playing-time incentives, the result of being benched for the final six quarters of last season. From the team's perspective, the situation undoubtedly is complicated by Garcia's age, 38.

Garcia says the Bucs at one point appeared likely to negotiate. But there has been little progress despite the team's comfortable salary-cap position.

"They've indicated to my agent that they would be working something out or trying to work something out," he said. "But it's at a snail's pace right now. At the rate it's going, who knows if it'll happen before the season starts?"

Running back Earnest Graham is perhaps asking the same question. He likely expected to have a new contract by now, but there has been no indication of progress and Graham continues to skip offseason workouts, missing his fourth practice Tuesday. Allen said in January an extension for Graham was likely, but he is still bound to his original contract that will pay him the veteran minimum of $605,000 in 2008, the final year of the deal.

"There are a few players on this team who I think should be rewarded," Garcia said. "A guy like Earnest Graham, who had such a spectacular season last year … he's stuck on the bottom. I don't think that anybody here is trying to break the bank. But it's about what your peers around the league are making and it's about being appreciated and respected."

Garcia perhaps summed up his comments when he looked into the cameras and offered a not-so-subtle message to the front office.

"This is a physical game and you want players to go out and give everything they have and lay their bodies on the line, lay their hearts on the line," he said. "Well, we want you to lay something on the line."

HAYE SIGNS ON: Defensive tackle Jovan Haye could not come to terms on a long-term deal but opted to sign his one-year restricted free-agent tender. Haye is scheduled to become a free agent after the season but he and the team can continue working toward a new deal in the meantime. He'll earn $2.09-million for 2008.

CADDY'S TIMETABLE: Injured running back Cadillac Williams said his rehab is progressing well and that he expects the team to consider several options before training camp that include placing him on the physically unable-to perform list or even, he said, leaving him on the active roster for camp.

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at sholder@sptimes.com.

Bucs QB Garcia adamant about contract demand 05/13/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 20, 2008 4:29pm]
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