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Bucs offer apparently on table for Simms

Chris Simms lost his spleen, then his job. He might settle for getting one of them back.

The Bucs apparently have stepped up their efforts to re-sign Simms by offering him a contract. He is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the season.

Simms, 26, ruptured his spleen in a loss to Carolina on Sept. 24. He was placed on injured reserve Nov. 3, ending his season.

This was expected to be a big year for Simms, who opted to sign a one-year, $2.1-million contract as a restricted free agent.

But he struggled from the outset, throwing just one touchdown and seven interceptions while compiling an 0-3 record before suffering the season-ending injury.

All the while, Simms has expressed an interest in remaining with the Bucs, and that feeling is mutual.

Simms spent the Thanksgiving holiday at his parents' home in New Jersey and was unavailable for comment Monday night.

Simms' father, former Giants Super Bowl quarterback Phil Simms, was not surprised at reports Monday that the Bucs had extended his son an offer.

During a conference call last week, coach Jon Gruden reiterated the team's interest in Simms.

"We like Chris Simms," Gruden said. "He was our opening day starter, and we're working on getting him back. But we're not going to address (his future) until the season is over."

After watching rookie Bruce Gradkowski struggle to a 3-5 record, the Bucs obviously felt the urgency to prevent Simms from hitting the market as a free agent. ESPN also reported Monday that the Bucs had made Simms an offer.

Gruden said Monday the Bucs used the Thanksgiving weekend to begin evaluating players they would like to keep in 2007 and beyond. According to information on file with the National Football League Players Association, the Bucs recently extended the contracts of punter Josh Bidwell and running back Earnest Graham. Bidwell is signed through 2011, Graham through 2008.

A third-round pick by the Bucs in 2003, Simms is 7-9 as a starter.

Twice Simms has lost his starting job to injury: in 2004, when he suffered a shoulder sprain in his first NFL start at New Orleans; and this year.

He has completed 59.1 percent of his passes for 3,087 yards with 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

"He's definitely proven he can play," Bucs receiver Joey Galloway said last week. "He probably has one of the strongest arms I've been around. He is a competitor. He is a bright guy. He'll be fine eventually, and I think that he will play, and I would love for him to play here. But this is a business, and I do understand that. I don't know where he'll end up, but I do think he's a player, and I think he'll be fine eventually."

Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud@sptimes.com.

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