Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Bruce Allen knew he couldn't get through an interview without the inevitable quarterback question.
"That's impossible," Allen chuckled as he talked to NFL Sirius Radio's Adam Schein on Friday.
Allen said the Buccaneers believe the quarterback position is the "most important individual position in any team sport." That's one of the reason's why the Bucs went out and traded for Brian Griese last week, making him the sixth quarterback on the roster.
Allen also knows the team's history of injuries at the position since 2004.
"(We thought) let's make sure we have five healthy quarterbacks when we go to camp, let them compete and that will determine who we line up with," Allen said.
That's right, five quarterbacks. When you take into account that Jake Plummer is still MIA, Griese, starter Jeff Garcia, Chris Simms, Bruce Gradkowski and Luke McCown are left to compete at the position.
Five quarterbacks for training camp. Perhaps that means Simms won't be traded after all?
Allen didn't comment specifically on that, but did say that Simms is "rarin' to go for offseason workouts with the team.
"I saw him a month ago and he's 100 percent and feels ready to go," Allen said. "He can't wait. He had a serious injury and we've been patient with him. The next few months of him getting back into the throwing motion with the other quarterbacks will be great for him."
Speculation about Simms' place on the team percolated after Griese's trade. In fact, two questions on Friday's NFL Blitz show were about the viability of trading Simms to other teams, such as the Miami Dolphins, where his father Phil's former boss, Bill Parcells, now runs the show.
Allen did not unveil a pecking order at quarterback, but Garcia is expected to be the starter and Griese his immediate backup. With most teams keeping three quarterbacks in the regular season, it's assumed that Simms — who led the Bucs to a division title in 2005 — will compete with Gradkowski and McCown for the third spot.
As for Griese, Allen clearly sounded like a man who was glad to have the quarterback back. He told Schein that if the only reason Griese was released was for cap reasons after the 2005 season, following which he signed with Chicago. But he led the Bucs to a 5-1 start before his season-ending knee injury in 2005 and appreciates Griese's comfort with head coach Jon Gruden's system.
"He has the best single-season passer rating in Buccaneers history," Allen said. "Anytime we can find a player that we think can help us, we'll add him."
Griese may represent part of the reason the Bucs have six quarterbacks. Griese (knee), Simms (spleen) and McCown (knee) have had season-ending injuries in Tampa Bay since the start of the 2005 season.
As for Plummer? Allen said that, short of his wife running into Plummer on her next ski trip and bringing him back to Tampa, there's been no movement on Plummer's future with the team or with the NFL.
"He has not shown us any interest in that he's going to come back," Allen said. "But if he wants to, we'll leave the light on for him."
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.