Buccaneers quarterback Jeff Garcia sounded off about the concerns regarding his contract situation yesterday. Today, it was general manager Bruce Allen's turn.
Allen addressed the media about Garcia's remarks and also spoke about running back Earnest Graham's contract situation and quarterback Chris Simms' status with the team.
Garcia, who has one year remaining on a two-year deal that will pay him $2 million in base salary this year, is clearly frustrated about the pace of the negotiations, and gave a possible indication that he could be contemplating a hold out.
"Each player has to handle his business the way he handles it," Allen said, noting that he didn't have a problem with Garcia going public with his unhappiness over his contract. "I've had plenty of conversations with our players' representatives and our players, and I know what their feelings are.
"Jeff has … over the last five years – it's been well documented – been on five different teams. I know he enjoyed great success with [head coach Jon Gruden] and wants that to continue. That part isn't bad news – it's good news. We've got seven months until free agency and we've got plenty of time. But our focus is that we have 70 days until training camp and we want to get our best 80 players ready."
Per his policy, Allen wouldn't discuss the specifics of the contract negotiations with Garcia other than to say, "We have offers out to a lot of our players. We're looking at this year and we're looking to the future to make sure we're doing what is best for the Bucs.
"You always take a four or five year glimpse at it," Allen said. "We really feel good about the core of this team. We have a lot of young players that we feel have a very bright future here. That's who we're looking at."
The fact that Garcia, who was a Pro Bowl performer last year for the Buccaneers by throwing 13 touchdowns and only four interceptions, is the team's starting quarterback and he's disgruntled didn't seem to phase Allen.
"Really, it doesn't create any problem for us," Allen said. "We just have a pretty clear idea of what is going to take place in the future and we're prepared for it.
"What we're looking at is all the players and making sure that our future with the Buccaneers is secure. We have a very clear picture of where the [NFL] labor negotiations are going we feel we're going to act appropriately with our team. … We're in good shape. Everything that we're focused on is for the upcoming season and the seasons to come, and we want to make sure that our team is prepared for that."
Graham, who is angling for a new contract himself, was a no-show for the fifth OTA (organized team activity), but his absence didn't seem to bother Allen.
"Earnest really performed well for us last year and he wasn't at most of the offseason program last year," Allen said. "He's a young man who takes care of himself and I'm sure he'll be prepared.
"Like most of the other negotiations, it's ongoing. We'll see what transpires."
Allen said that the status of Simms, who has decided not to participate until his role with the team can be made clear, has not changed. There has been speculation that Simms may be traded or released prior to the start of training camp.
"I've talked to his representatives a number of times – no change," Allen said. "My talks with all of the representatives are confidential."
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