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Bucs QB Garcia upset he doesn't have new contract

QB Jeff Garcia is entering the final season of his contract.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times (2007)

QB Jeff Garcia is entering the final season of his contract.

TAMPA — For the first time in five years, Jeff Garcia was thrilled he did not have a change of uniform or address in the offseason.

The grass has never grown under the cleats of the vagabond quarterback.

And it's starting to look as if the Bucs do not want Garcia to put down too many roots in Tampa Bay.

Garcia said Tuesday that he's disappointed the team hasn't been willing to tear up his contract and reward him with a new deal that would enable him to finish his career with the Bucs.

Garcia, 38, has one year remaining on his contract that will pay him a base salary of $2-million in 2008. He went 8-6 as a starter for the Bucs last season, leading them to an NFC South title and being named to the Pro Bowl.

Nonrookie starting quarterbacks average between $7-million and $15-million a year in the NFL, making Garcia among the league's lowest-paid quarterbacks.

After Tuesday's workout — the first of the offseason — Garcia was asked if he was disappointed by the lack of progress toward a new deal.

"You could say that," Garcia said. "Talks haven't necessarily gone all that good.

"So in a way, it's disappointing. At this point in my career, I'm no longer 24 or 25 saying, 'I'm going to prove to you I deserve this.' I feel like I've proved throughout my career. And I feel like at this time, it's time to just work with me, and you know what I bring to the team. You know what I've done for the team, and you know how much more I can do. And now I have a year under my system."

The Bucs declined to comment.

There's another reason why Garcia might be unhappy with his contract.

Because of the Bucs' decision to rest him for the final two weeks of the regular season, he fell just short of participating in 70 percent of their offensive snaps, preventing him from earning a seven-figure bonus.

Coach Jon Gruden did not allow Garcia to play the second half of the Bucs' 21-19 loss at San Francisco on Dec. 23. Garcia also was benched for the regular-season finale at home against the Panthers on Dec. 30. As a result, Garcia did not get at least $1-million in bonus money.

Garcia is not required to attend the offseason workout program, which is voluntary. But he participated in Tuesday's as an act of good faith. Whether he attends the rest of this week's workouts or future offseason workout programs remains to be seen, but he indicated his options are limited.

"I'm committed to a second year the way my contract is drawn up," Garcia said. "Yes, I would like to rip it up and create a new one that allows me to finish off my career here. But we're not necessarily on the same page as far as that's concerned."

Garcia, Luke McCown and Bruce Gradkowski were the only quarterbacks that attended practice Tuesday. Chris Simms is not participating in offseason workouts presumably because he wants to be traded. Brian
Griese, acquired in a trade with the Bears in March, had a commitment to a charity event.

Tuesday's practice with the Bucs marked the first time since 2003 with the 49ers that Garcia has begun an offseason with the team he played for in the previous season. After bouncing to the Browns, Lions and Eagles in consecutive seasons, he finally found a home under Gruden in Tampa Bay.

In 2007, Garcia completed 209 of 307 passes for 2,440 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions for a passer rating of 94.6.

Garcia said he has a chance to build upon the success he enjoyed in the team's offense a year ago.

"My head was swimming," Garcia said. "When I heard the terminology (last year), I was still trying to figure it all out. And I'm not at that point.

"So now I can take off from where I am now and build upon that. And going into the season, I just feel I'll be so much more confident and secure as to how to run this system as opposed to where I was last year. And last year, things didn't go all that bad."

Bucs QB Garcia upset he doesn't have new contract 04/08/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 14, 2008 9:07am]

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