Entering the offseason quarterback was not a position of need for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But that didn't stop the Buccaneers from trading for Brian Griese on Monday. The Bucs reportedly gave up a 2009 draft pick, probably in the sixth or seventh round.
Does this feel like history repeating itself?
Last offseason the Buccaneers needed to address the quarterback position and did, only part of their strategy blew up in their face. The Bucs traded a draft pick for Jake Plummer and he retired. Only he hasn't officially retired and is still a part of Tampa Bay's roster, counting against their salary cap. More on that later.
Now the Bucs have traded another draft pick for another veteran quarterback. At least this one will show up (we think).
Yes, that's right. Six quarterbacks.
Perhaps GM Bruce Allen was confused. Maybe he thought the Bucs needed quarterbacks, not cornerbacks.
First let's examine why the Bucs made this move when they have so many other needs to address. By dealing a draft pick for Griese, the Bucs are sending a clear message to Gradkowski, McCown and Simms that they don't have faith in any of them as a backup. That's a bit perplexing in regard to McCown, who performed well in his two games starting in place of Garcia. His biggest difficulty was in getting rid of the football under duress, but that's a talent that can be refined over time.
Simms hasn't played a down in more than a year, though he appears to finally be over the physical difficulties caused by his ruptured spleen in 2006. But even before the injury, he wasn't lighting anyone's world on fire as the starter in 2006.
Gradkowski has the look of a failed experiment. It's clear the Buccaneers were disappointed by Gradkowski's performance in relief of Garcia against Washington and it may end his time in Tampa Bay before his contract expires in 2009.
Especially now that Griese is here. The Buccaneers obviously believe that Griese will be a better option behind Garcia. Griese spent two years in Jon Gruden's offense and was, for the most part, successful. There is probably comfort in that as far as Gruden is concerned.
Plus, the Buccaneers may see Griese as their quarterback beyond Garcia, whose contract ends after next season, but could be extended. Griese is signed through 2010 and for a reasonable $5 million in base salary. Griese could end up being Garcia's natural successor.
|Brian Griese is returning to Tampa Bay, and it could be as Jeff Garcia's eventual successor. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)|
And it's even stranger that the Bucs traded for a player that the Bears were set to release on Tuesday. The Bucs still could have signed him, for much less money, and without giving up a precious commodity — a draft pick. It all has the feel of a Plummer-esque panicky decision.
The second, and more pressing question, is: What does Tampa Bay do with the excess?
Many believed that Simms' days in Tampa Bay were waning to begin with. Now it would seem that Tampa Bay would put Simms on the market. He's probably their most marketable player at the position, given his play in 2005, when he led the Bucs to a division title in Griese's place. He still has a big arm and could thrive in a vertical passing offense — and away from Gruden. The Bucs won't get much, perhaps only a fifth or sixth-round pick. But it would be enough.
McCown might fetch a seventh-round pick from a team that liked what they saw last year, but it would be a tough sell.
Gradkowski could be released. There is no trade market out there for him.
And then there's Plummer, who is out hiking somewhere in Idaho but still under contract for the next three years. The cap hit the Bucs would take by releasing him would be prohibitive. But there's no trade market for Plummer because he's made no overtures of a return. And the Bucs can't dump his salary in a trade as they can in the NBA.
When Allen finally does speak about Griese, he's likely to say something along the lines of what he said about Plummer: "This is what we meant to do."
And the reaction of most people will be the same as they had last year: "Really?"
All this trade does is eliminate the Bucs' need to draft a quarterback in this draft and reinforces the belief that Gruden does not like young quarterbacks. It would seem the Bucs' desire is to have Griese eventually succeed Garcia, deal Simms, Plummer and potentially McCown and even release Gradkowski. The Bucs can only think about taking four quarterbacks to training camp because there aren't enough reps to go around. That means at least two of these guys should be gone by July.
Unless Gruden, the ultimate quarterback collector, wants a lucky seventh.
Now, Bruce, about that CORNERBACK …
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.