The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are willing to give quarterback Jake Plummer some time to contemplate his retirement from the NFL.

However, Plummer has apparently already made his decision.

Plummer held a small press conference at the Denver Athletic Club Friday evening to end speculation that he might play football again. He expressed the importance of leaving the game of football in one piece.

“At 32 years old, I’m running away from the game,” said Plummer, who was playing a doubles handball tournament with his brother Eric. “Not in fear or fright, but meaning health-wise. I’m healthy, I’m happy and I have a lot to look forward to in my life.”

Plummer, who originally entered the NFL in 1997 with the Arizona Cardinals, completed 57.1 percent of his career passes for 29,253 yards. He tossed 161 touchdowns and 160 interceptions. Plummer had 136 career starts and produced an impressive 40-18 record as Denver's starting signal caller.

Tampa Bay traded a 2008 seventh-round draft pick to Denver in exchange for Plummer’s rights on Saturday. If Plummer decided to play for the Bucs, that draft pick could become higher.  

The Buccaneers were aware of Plummer’s desire to retire before they traded for him, but they felt there was a chance he could change his mind and play in 2007 or possibly take a year off and return to football in 2008.

With the Bucs signing QB Jeff Garcia to a two-year contract and already having QB Chris Simms under contract, there has been speculation that has suggested Tampa Bay could be interested in trading Plummer to a team in need of a veteran quarterback, like Oakland or Houston, where Plummer would presumably be interested in reuniting with former Denver offensive coordinator and new Houston head coach Gary Kubiak.

But in order to pull off such a trade, Plummer likely would have to have intentions of playing first. He attempted to end that sort of speculation Friday evening by reiterating his intention to retire.

“The speculation can stop tonight,’ said Plummer. “You can know by looking at my face and hearing my words. I’m retiring from the NFL.”

Although he’s made his plans to retire public through a statement on his foundation’s website and now through a small press conference, the NFL still hasn’t received Plummer’s retirement paperwork.  

Plummer did not answer the media’s questions on Friday. He only made a five-minute statement, which included his plans for life after football.

“I’ll be at a mountain, either at the bottom or top of a mountain somewhere, really enjoying myself,” said Plummer. “Don’t worry about Jake because he’ll be fine. I’m ready to move on with my life and try some other challenges.”

The only way Plummer’s $5.3 million base salary affects Tampa Bay’s salary cap during the regular season is if he reports to training camp.

However, if Plummer does indeed officially retire, the Bucs can go after him for as little as $5 million and possibly as much as $7 million in bonus money that Denver previously paid him. Tampa Bay is entitled to his signing bonus and all bonuses even though Denver paid it to Plummer because when you trade for a player, you inherit all of the provisions and clauses in the contract.

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