TAMPA — Chris Simms doesn't just believe he has played his last game in a Bucs uniform — he is counting on it.
The catastrophic injuries to quarterbacks around the league never materialized. Tampa Bay is not going to pay a $2-million premium for a left-handed insurance policy.
By 6 p.m. today, when teams trim rosters from 75 to 53 players, Simms hopes to be released and fielding calls from the Cowboys or Packers.
"I don't think I'm going to be here. I think that's the writing on the wall, and that's what I'm prepared for," Simms said. "If I end up here? Great. My family and I love being here; we love living here. I love playing for this team.
"But I've been around the NFL long enough to know the situation, and I think most likely when (today) comes, I will be released and we'll go our separate ways. But it was a great run."
It's possible the Bucs could keep five quarterbacks on the roster until early next week. An extra spot is created when tight end Jerramy Stevens goes on the suspended list for two games. But the team must decide what to do with fifth-round pick Josh Johnson, who might not clear waivers if it tries to sneak him onto the practice squad.
Simms, 28, says he at least proved to other teams he is healthy. He appeared in three preseason games, going 19-of-30 for 155 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.
"I'm sure it (helps)," Simms said. "I got to throw the ball down the field twice (Thursday). At least they can see I'm healthy and can take hits. I moved around okay when I had to. I got to at least show a little bit of everything in the preseason so they could see, okay, he can play."
The Bucs have tough decisions to make today, particularly at defensive back and receiver.
Elbert Mack, an undrafted rookie cornerback from Troy, made his case for a spot ahead of veteran Eugene Wilson. If he gets released today, he hopes he did enough to be claimed by another team.
"One of the first things I did when I walked off the field (Thursday) was thank the coaches," Mack said. "I thanked them for bringing me in and giving me a chance to compete.
"You never know what other teams are looking for. Hopefully, I'll be a Buccaneer. If not, it's one of those things where you have to keep pushing and fighting."
At receiver, Brian Clark, Micheal Spurlock and Cortez Hankton face long odds. At linebacker, veteran Ryan Nece could be replaced by Matt McCoy or rookie Geno Hayes. On the defensive line, Greg Peterson, rookie Dre Moore, Charles Bennett and recently signed Patrick Chukwurah might be vulnerable.
"I think I showed the team the real me," Moore said. "I'm a quiet, humble dude who goes in and does the job. … I would've liked to have made a few more plays, but I think I did all right."
Simms might be the only player hoping to be cut. But he will leave with mixed emotions.
"It'll always be a special place for me," Simms said of Tampa Bay. "Who knows? It's a crazy league. Who's to say I won't be back here in a couple years? Warrick Dunn did it. You never know."