The Tampa Bay Buccaneers nearly landed a veteran quarterback Friday when they reached a deal that would send a fourth-round draft pick to Denver in exchange for quarterback Jake Plummer.

But Plummer nullified the deal by retiring, which took the Bucs by surprise.

According to a source close to the situation, Tampa Bay has now turned its attention to Philadelphia free agent QB Jeff Garcia, who appeared to be headed to Oakland Friday evening before negotiations hit snag.

Garcia will visit One Buccaneer Place on Saturday.

Like Plummer, Garcia has also turned down the opportunity to play for Tampa Bay in the past — three times to be exact. However, each failed attempt to lure Garcia to Tampa Bay came down to the Bucs’ lack of salary cap room.That is not an issue this offseason as the Bucs have over $24 million in cap room at their disposal.

Garcia was seriously interested in playing for the Bucs then, and he's interested in playing for the Bucs now.

“What has intrigued Jeff about playing in Tampa Bay in the past has been the opportunity to play for Jon Gruden,” Baker told PewterReport.com earlier in the week. “Coach Gruden has an impressive track record with quarterbacks. I mean, three years ago Jeff came pretty close to turning down $25 million [from Cleveland] to come play for Gruden and the Bucs.”

Garcia, 37, is coming off an impressive stint with Philadelphia, where he completed 116-of-188 (61.7 percent) passes for 1,309 yards and tossed 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions in eight games (six starts). Garcia played well in place of injured QB Donovan McNabb and led the Eagles to the NFC East division title and playoffs after a 5-5 start under McNabb.

Garcia has started 92 of the 99 career regular games he’s played in since entering the NFL in 1999 with San Francisco 49ers. He’s completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 20,385 yards and tossed 136 touchdowns and 73 interceptions.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Garcia, who had a brilliant career in the Canadian Football League before entering the NFL in ‘99, has also displayed impressive mobility and playmaking ability with his feet, evidenced by his 1,878 yards and 24 touchdowns via the ground game.

In addition to Tampa Bay, Oakland, Denver, Houston and Minnesota are still believed to be interested in signing Garcia, but Plummer’s decision to retire appears to have given negotiations between the Bucs and Garcia’s agent some serious momentum.

Tampa Bay currently has four quarterbacks — Chris Simms, Bruce Gradkowski, Luke McCown and Bruce Eugene — under contract for the 2007 season. 

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