Not all of Tampa Bay’s players reported to Celebration Hotel for the start of training camp on Thursday.
While all of Tampa Bay’s 2007 draft picks signed their rookie deals and reported to camp on time, Bucs quarterback Jake Plummer was a no-show.
The Bucs acquired Plummer, 32, in a trade with the Denver Broncos in March.
Plummer has stated all offseason that he is retired from the National Football League.
However, the Bucs spent the offseason trying to convince Plummer to play football.
In fact, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden flew to Iowa to meet with Plummer shortly after the team’s organized team activities ended.
But there were no chalkboards, footballs or playbooks involved. Instead, Gruden spent the meeting getting to know Plummer and learning more about his future plans.
Even with Plummer failing to report to training camp, Gruden still remains hopeful that Plummer will eventually decide to play for the Buccaneers.
“Jake’s not here,” said Gruden. “I think [general manager] Bruce [Allen] will answer any of those questions specifically later in regards to his situation. But we did try to look into his situation. We exhausted enough effort there to make fair. At this point in time he’s not here, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be here. He has been a very good football player who has gotten a lot of results wherever he’s been.”
Plummer has completed 57.1 percent of his career passes for 29,253 yards and tossed 161 touchdowns and 161 interceptions since entering the NFL in 1997 with the Arizona Cardinals.
When the Bucs traded for Plummer, their plan was to have the veteran signal caller come in and compete with Jeff Garcia for the starting quarterback job.
Some wonder why the Bucs traded for Plummer when they were already aware of his intention to retire from the league. Allen, who made upgrading the Bucs’ quarterback position a top priority when the offseason started in January, said Plummer’s resume’ speaks for itself.
“I think Jake has a lot to offer and his performance the last four years has been one of the best in the NFL,” said Allen. “He has the fourth most wins of any quarterback in the NFL over the last four years. He has a lot to offer this game and he is a great competitor.
“Do I believe that he will never play again? No, I don’t believe that.”
Although the Bucs could be out a 2008 seventh-round draft pick, which they traded to the Broncos in exchange for Plummer, they will rid themselves of his $5.3 million base salary in 2007 after he’s placed on the reserve/did not report list on Friday’s waiver wire.
Tampa Bay also reserves to the right to pursue as much as $7 million worth of bonus money Plummer, who is under contract through the 2009 season, received while playing for the Denver Broncos.
“There are consequences to not reporting to camp,” said Allen. “We will treat [Plummer] like any other person that would hold out from our camp.”
With Bruce Eugene on the NFL Europe injured reserve list, the Bucs will take four quarterbacks – Garcia, Chris Simms, Bruce Gradkowski and Luke McCown– to the practice field at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex for their first training camp practice on Friday morning.
“I feel a lot better now than I did at this point last year because we have four guys that have some system background," Gruden said. "Jeff Garcia comes in here after taking the majority of the snaps in the offseason as a veteran who has played in this style of system before. Chris Simms is a guy with 19 or 20 career starts here. Bruce Gradkowski has 11 or 12 career starts, and Luke McCown is going to be in his third season. Now Luke wasn’t here; he was hurt last year. Simms was hurt last year early. And obviously Brian Griese left us in free agency, so we had a real lack of experience. But I do think four guys with some system background and some playmaking in their background is going to be good for this football team.”
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