Message to Detroit defensive coordinator and former linebackers coach Joe Barry — if you need a linebacker, don't call Shelton Quarles.
He's moved on.
While Quarles didn't say the "R" word on Wednesday, he all but ended his playing career by accepting a position as an advance scout for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"It's pretty close. It's about as close as you can get without actually saying it," Quarles said. "But they offered me a job and I look forward to doing a good job at what I'll be doing."
Quarles, who was released by Tampa Bay in April after failing a postseason physical, will be scouting NFL games in other cities on Sundays to help the Buccaneers prepare for upcoming opponents. It's a position that Quarles hopes will one day lead to a position in a NFL front office, preferably Tampa Bay. He envisions a career path similar to former Buccaneers quarterback Doug Williams, who is now a Bucs personnel executive.
"Hopefully this will lead to better things, but not coaching," Quarles said, who later said he had no interest in coaching because it would take time away from his family.
Quarles' release appeared unceremonious when it occurred, given his importance to the organization during its rise from the dregs of the NFL to a Super Bowl championship in the 2002 season. His rise came simultaneously. He played 10 seasons in the NFL, all in Tampa Bay, rising from an undrafted free agent to the starting middle linebacker of one of the most feared defenses in the NFL. He was in the Top 3 in tackles among all Buccaneers each of the last five seasons, and made his only Pro Bowl appearance in 2002.
But he said it was hard to agree with the move at the time.
"In my mind, no. I'm a football player, so you think you can play forever," Quarles said. "So that's my mentality."
But that experience apparently didn't prevent him from taking general manager Bruce Allen's job offer, which has been on the table for more than a year. This isn't the first time he's shown loyalty to the organization.
Quarles had a chance to leave the Buccaneers as a free agent after that Super Bowl, but said he chose to take less money than was on the open market to stay in Tampa Bay. That loyalty again came into play as Quarles struggled with the decision to try and play with another team this season.
"We had opportunities," Quarles said. "But for me staying in the Tampa area and being a part of the organization in some way is what I really wanted to do, in whatever capacity they would have me."
Quarles is just one of several players that have been released or allowed to hit the free agency market since the Super Bowl victory. Along with Quarles, safety John Lynch and defensive end Simeon Rice both were released after failing physicals. Warren Sapp was allowed to leave.
Quarles conceded that the reputation of the organization had taken a hit because of those moves, but said it is part of football. You can't play forever, he said.
"There comes a time when you won't be a part of a team and you have to understand that," Quarles said. "It's a harsh business and that's the way business is conducted around the league, not just here. It's understandable (that fans think that way)."
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and has won national awards for his Buccaneers coverage from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors.