Bucs sign Garcia, acquire Plummer

Jason Cole
Yahoo! Sports

In a bizarre twist on Saturday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended up with two veteran quarterbacks they had been pursuing this offseason.

Tampa Bay signed quarterback Jeff Garcia to a two-year deal, getting the veteran quarterback the team wanted badly heading into next season. But the Buccaneers also completed a trade for the Denver Broncos' Jake Plummer, a day after it appeared that Plummer had squashed the deal by retiring.

While the Bucs were announcing the signing of Garcia, who received a deal loaded with incentives, the Broncos announced the trade of Plummer. The Broncos get a conditional draft pick in 2008 that is likely contingent on whether Plummer plays.

Plummer reportedly declared his intentions to retire Friday after news leaked that the Broncos had dealt him to the Bucs for a fourth-round pick in this year's NFL draft. That temporarily scuttled the deal. However, the Broncos continued to make the deal and it's believed that part of the reason was purely out of spite.

The relationship between Plummer and Denver head coach Mike Shanahan deteriorated quickly last season after the Broncos spent a first-round draft pick on Jay Cutler and then replaced Plummer with the rookie in November.

Plummer's biggest private complaint about Shanahan came on the weekend after Denver had played on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thanksgiving Day. That Sunday, Shanahan made the decision to switch quarterbacks, but didn't call Plummer directly. Instead, Shanahan had an assistant coach call Plummer, two sources close to Plummer said.

Plummer's pending retirement obviously creates a number of issues. That includes the possible repayment of bonus money. There has been speculation that Plummer might reconsider retirement if he could play for a team of his choice, such as the Houston Texans whose head coach, Gary Kubiak, is Plummer's former coordinator. However, one source close to him said last night he didn't think that would happen.

"I really think Jake is done," the source said.

The Bucs could eventually cut Plummer or put him on the reserve/retired list to save the money against the salary cap.

As for Garcia, he will receive a deal almost exactly the same as the one that Chris Simms agreed to last season. The deal will pay Garcia $5 million in the first year and could be worth as much as $14.5 million if Garcia is the starter both years and takes the Buccaneers to the playoffs each season.

Garcia flew to Tampa, Fla., on Friday night and the Buccaneers held a press conference Saturday afternoon to announce the signing.

Garcia, from Gilroy, Calif., and a product of San Jose State, spent Friday meeting with the Oakland Raiders. Although Garcia was said to have been impressed by the Raiders coaches, there were still significant questions about the team's management and ability to produce an immediate contender. The Raiders went 2-14 last season, scored the fewest points (168) in the league and have won just 15 games in the past four seasons. In addition, the Raiders have the No. 1 overall pick and are in position to take one of the top young quarterbacks in the draft, either JaMarcus Russell of LSU or Brady Quinn of Notre Dame.

Garcia helped Philadelphia reach the NFC divisional playoffs and nearly led the Eagles to an upset of the New Orleans Saints in that game. Garcia, 37, took over when Donovan McNabb was knocked out for the season with a knee injury and rallied the Eagles after they dropped to 5-6.

This was the second time the Bucs made a push to acquire Garcia. In 2004, Garcia was reportedly on the verge of joining Tampa Bay before signing with the Cleveland Browns.

Garcia finished last season with 10 touchdowns, two interceptions and a quarterback rating of 95.8. In the previous two seasons with the Browns and the Detroit Lions, Garcia combined for 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions and never had a rating of more than 76.7.

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