Bucs, Simms need to part ways

The news that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Chris Simms is not going to attend optional team workouts at One Buc Place this offseason prompted much discussion. Is there a place left for Simms in this franchise, or are his days in Tampa Bay finally numbered? Matthew Postins examines that and provides his opinion on the issue.

Bucsblitz.com has already confirmed several player visits to One Buc Place next month, along with private workouts conducted by the Buccaneers. Want to know who is on the list? You can find out in our exclusive premium message board, "2008 Bucs NFL Draft Insider Updates," which chronicles all of the player visits and private workouts we've confirmed. Click here to find out all the confirmed meetings so far.

I like Chris Simms. Always have, always will. Aside from his obvious talent, he's been a stand-up guy, even going back to his days at the University of Texas when I dealt with him there. No matter what happened, he always handled it with class.

I always felt that Simms would make a better pro quarterback than a college quarterback. I still believe that.

But it's not going to happen in Tampa Bay. And the writing's been on the wall for some time.

It was easy to ignore for a while when you considered the options behind starter Jeff Garcia. They weren't exactly — what's the word? — palatable? Yeah, palatable.

That's why they kept Simms after the preseason last year. Well, that and the public relations blemish his release would have caused. Given the way Simms' 2006 season ended — with a splenectomy necessitated by an on-field injury — the Bucs could have courted plenty of flak for letting him go.

The Bucs and Simms have been on this merry-go-round for more than a year now, with the Bucs at times saying Simms was healthy but not football ready, only to put him on injured reserve last October and listing his injury as his "spleen."

Now it's time for these two dance partners to part ways.

The Bucs are now fully fortified at quarterback with Garcia, Brian Griese as his backup and Luke McCown and Bruce Gradkowski there to duke it out for No. 3. Don't forget about wayward veteran Jake Plummer and the possibility that the Bucs could take another quarterback next month. They've already meet with San Diego's Josh Johnson and they worked out Michigan's Chad Henne privately on Wednesday.

The point is, Bucs general manager Bruce Allen said two weeks ago that he wants to take five quarterbacks with him to training camp.

He just didn't say which five.

Simms, for his part, appears to be finally healthy and ready to play. But his decision to stay away from the Bucs' offseason workout program — which was reported on Thursday at Tampabay.com ¬— speaks volumes about his perception of his place in the franchise.

In other words, he believes he has no place. Now, I haven't talked to Simms, but this isn't a hard conclusion to draw when you consider the guy is ALWAYS at One Buc Place for OTAs.

Simms and the Bucs were a mismatch from the start. His big arm is built for a vertical passing game, not Jon Gruden's West Coast offense. Should Simms land with a team that employs the vertical game, I think you could see his play soar.

But where will he land? And when will he get the chance?

The Bucs will seek to trade him, but there may not be any takers for a quarterback that hasn't played a down in nearly two years. The news of Simms' absence at OTAs will likely prompt potential trade partners to take a wait and see approach on whether to trade for Simms, figuring the longer they wait, the better the chance the Bucs will release Simms.

The right thing to do — for all concerned — is to let Simms go after the draft if the Bucs are unable to execute a trade. They may only get a seventh-round pick in return, but at least they'll get something and Simms will get a new home. If they get nothing in return, so be it. At least the Bucs have protected themselves at the position.

They don't need Simms anymore, and Simms doesn't need to fight for a job that likely will never be his.

The honorable thing for both is to part ways and allow Simms to continue his career where there is room for him to prove he can still play in the NFL.

Did you miss Matthew Postins' second Buccaneers-only Mock Draft? Click here to read how Postins shook up the Buccaneers' draft strategy.

How will Tampa Bay's newest acquisition, Eugene Wilson, fit into the Bucs' defense? Postins and Patriotsinsider.com's Jon Scott examined that issue in a recent article. Click here to access this insider analysis.

The NFL Draft isn't just about the first round. The Buccaneers are targeting mid-round prospects that could help their roster, too. Check out Ed Thompson's interview with a Mid-American Conference star cornerback who will meet with the Bucs soon.

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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.

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