Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden has been accused of collecting quarterbacks before, and this year certainly is no exception.
By sending a 2009 sixth-round draft pick to the Chicago Bears in exchange for Brian Griese on Mar. 3, the Buccaneers currently have six veteran quarterbacks on their offseason roster.
Some had assumed that by trading for Griese, Tampa Bay had given up on its attempt to lure QB Jake Plummer out of retirement. But that's not the case.
Tampa Bay general manager Bruce Allen told PewterReport.com on Wednesday that the team would welcome Plummer in if he decided to play for the Buccaneers at some point this offseason.
The Bucs have talked to Plummer this year, but whether he intends on coming out of retirement to play for Tampa Bay in 2008 remains a mystery.
"Only Jake can give you a true answer on that," said Allen. "We've left the light on for him."
The Buccaneers traded Denver for the rights to Plummer, 33, last year, but he opted to retire instead of playing for Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden went as far as flying to Idaho to meet with Plummer last summer, but to no avail. Plummer remained retired and the Bucs were led to a 9-7 record and a NFC South division title by QB Jeff Garcia, who signed with Tampa Bay on the same day the Bucs traded for Plummer last year.
The Bucs and Broncos have since filed three joint grievances against Plummer in an effort to either get Plummer to play or repay $7 million in bonus money he received while playing in Denver.
In Gruden's six years as head coach of Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers have only had one starting quarterback play an entire regular season. That quarterback was Brad Johnson, who started all 16 regular season games for the Bucs in 2003.
Because they have suffered a rash of injuries at the position, the Buccaneers have had nine different quarterbacks start during Gruden's six-year tenure in Tampa Bay.
Gruden realizes the importance of having a solid stable of quarterbacks, which is one of the main reasons why the Buccaneers traded for Griese even though it already had Jeff Garcia, Luke McCown, Bruce Gradkowski, Chris Simms and Plummer under contract.
"As I've said, I believe the quarterback position is the most important position in all of team sports, and it has more challenges than the other position in any team sport," Allen said. "We've been unfortunate, over the last few years, that some of our quarterbacks have been injured. The more quality depth we can put at that position, especially with somebody becoming available like Brian, who not only is a savvy veteran, but is knowledgeable about our system – we feel we couldn't pass it up. Because we do have the cap room, we have the luxury of having the quality we have from one to six."
Plummer's situation isn't the only one that is unknown at the quarterback position. Bucs QB Chris Simms' future has been up in the air ever since he sustained a spleen injury in September of 2006. He attempted to come back from that injury last season, but was later placed on injured reserve.
Simms claimed to be close to 100 percent healthy when he addressed the media in January, and Allen said Simms still feels that way based on a conversation the two recently had.
"Chris told me just a little while ago, it was just last week or so, that he is 100 percent healthy, and everything is operating perfectly for him so, I know that's a big relief to him and also to us," said Allen.
Allen did acknowledge that the uncertainty surrounding Plummer's status as an NFL player also played an important role in Tampa Bay's decision to trade for Griese, who played for the Bucs from 2004-05.
"Well it has to do with his status, for sure, and the fact that [Jake Plummer] didn't report last year, and nothing other than that," said Allen.
Per terms of the trade for Plummer, the Buccaneers will be required to give the Broncos their fourth-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft if Plummer decides to play before the draft actually takes place.
If Plummer does not report for duty before the 2008 NFL Draft takes place in late-April, the Buccaneers will be required to give the Broncos their seventh-round selection this year.
Should Plummer, for some reason, decide to wait until after the 2008 NFL Draft takes place to play for Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers would not be required to compensate Denver anymore than it would have already done with the 2008 seventh-round draft pick.
Plummer is under contract with the team through the 2010 season. His $5.3 million base salary currently does not count against Tampa Bay's salary cap.
The Buccaneers are approximately $36 million under the salary cap.
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