TAMPA — The Bucs will go with four quarterbacks this season, and Chris Simms will not be one of them.
Why, of course he won't.
That's what Simms was trying to convince the Bucs of in June when he made a public plea to be traded or released.
Other teams could do the math, too. The waiting game ended Saturday night when Simms was summoned to One Buc Place by general manager Bruce Allen and set free.
Simms, 28, is expected to receive interest from the Cowboys, Packers, Bears and Ravens.
"I don't look at it as a waste of time," Simms said of spending the preseason in Tampa Bay. "It was at least a chance to get back and practice and get into the swing of things in the NFL. I got to play and improve my game a little bit. It was a good preseason, nonetheless.
"It was just a tough situation."
He was not alone. The Bucs also released veteran linebacker Ryan Nece and defensive tackle Dre Moore, a fourth-round pick from Maryland.
Nece, who came to the Bucs as an undrafted rookie from UCLA, is one of the last members of the Bucs' Super Bowl team.
"It hasn't been an easy road, but at the same time, I wouldn't have had it any other way," Nece, 29, said. "I was able to come in and be part of a Super Bowl team as an undrafted rookie.
"The biggest thing is that I've made Tampa my home. This community has been great to me. The community has embraced me, and I'll continue to do that from afar."
An outstanding special teams player early in his career, Nece was a starter at strongside linebacker in 2003, '05 and '06. But he had fallen to third on the depth chart behind starter Cato June and backup Quincy Black.
One of the Bucs' most popular players for his charitable contributions after establishing his foundation, Nece appeared in 85 games, recording 141 tackles and 31/2 sacks.
By releasing Moore, the Bucs cut ties with a player they selected with the 115th overall choice after trading a fifth-round pick to the Bears to move up five spots.
But the 6-foot-4, 305-pound Moore, who didn't play football until his junior year of high school, struggled with his conditioning and did not make enough plays during training camp and four preseason games. He recorded three tackles and two passes defensed. The last fourth-round pick by the Bucs not to be on the roster for opening day was tackle Lance Nimmo in 2003.
The Bucs made 22 roster moves to reach the 53-man roster limit. One of the spots was created when tight end Jerramy Stevens was placed on the reserve/suspended list. Stevens will miss the first two games as he serves a commissioner's suspension for his DUI conviction in Arizona. And receiver Cortez Hankton was placed on injured reserve with a groin tear.
The list of players released included three receivers (Brian Clark, Chad Lucas and Micheal Spurlock) and three running backs (Clifton Smith, Kenneth Darby and fullback Carl Stewart).
The Bucs decided to keep rookie Josh Johnson, a fifth-round pick from San Diego, as their fourth quarterback.
Another happy player was cornerback Elbert Mack, an undrafted free agent from Troy who overcame tall odds to make the team.
Simms played in three preseason games, going 19 of 30 for 155 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. But he performed well enough to prove to other teams he is fully recovered from the effects of abdominal surgery in 2006 that forced him to miss nearly all of the past two seasons.
Simms' best season came in 2005, when he went 6-5 in relief of Brian Griese, who suffered a season-ending knee injury. Because of his experience, strong arm and pedigree, he will probably find another home in a few days.
The Cowboys' backup quarterback is Brad Johnson, 40, Simms' former teammate with the Bucs. The Packers have no experienced quarterback behind Aaron Rodgers, who has never started a regular-season game.
"My agent (Tom Condon) was getting some calls," Simms said. "Right now, I don't have a clue what's going to happen."
After turning in his playbook and a brief meeting with Allen, Simms said, he unexpectedly became emotional after encountering several coaches, equipment managers and trainers.
"I didn't think about saying goodbye to the people over there," Simms said. "I got kind of choked up. It was kind of sad."
Times staff writer Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report.