Jon Gruden said he didn't know where Chris Simms was on Tuesday, and in typical Gruden fashion he talked about the guys that were there, not the guys that weren't.
"I don't know where Chris is," Gruden said. "As I said, I like him a lot and I wish him the best in this situation, but I'm going to coach the guys that are here."
You shouldn't necessarily read anything into Gruden's "wish him the best" comment. That's a regular staple in Gruden-speak. He wishes people well every week.
But that might as well be the final send-off for Simms, who at some point this offseason will either be traded or released. It's just a matter of when.
Simms can count. There are five active quarterbacks on the roster right now. The Bucs reportedly will take four into the regular season. Jeff Garcia's in, even as he threatens a holdout for more money. Brian Griese is in. He'll be the starter in 2009. Josh Johnson is in. Even though he's a fifth-round pick, he's this year's "quarterback of the future" and exposing him to the practice squad — where he can be signed away by anyone — is too risky.
That leaves Simms vs. Luke McCown. Simms has the better arm, but McCown has been to every offseason team activity and is at mini-camp this week. Plus, he hasn't told everyone with a microphone or notebook that he wants out of Tampa Bay. Simms did that all last week to the Tampa Tribune, the St. Petersburg Time and NFL Radio, plus provided several other juicy nuggets like:
— The Bucs, according to Simms, entertained phone calls from three different teams on the second day of the draft about trading for him. But Johnson's selection scuttled those plans. Why? Why trade a pick for a player you can likely get for free?
— According to Simms, the Glazer family, not Gruden or general manager Bruce Allen, made it clear Simms would have a spot on the 2007 roster.
— According to Simms, the NFL was so leery of Simms being moved to the injured reserve list in October that they sent Simms to a doctor in St. Louis for a thorough examination before approving the move.
— According to Simms, he's has trust issues with Gruden and can't play for him anymore.
So why is Simms still a Buc? Well, the Bucs are gun-shy when it comes to quarterbacks, and when you've run through as many of them due to injury as the Bucs, that's understandable. Options must be kept. Allen is on the record as wanting to see Simms compete for a job in training camp. The Bucs also want to see if Simms is, indeed, 100 percent, as he claims.
And that's the biggest reason. The Bucs probably still harbor some hope of dealing Simms for a late-round pick, although common sense tells us that they missed their window in April. But by bringing Simms to camp and proving to teams that he is finally healthy and ready to play, he could generate some interest from a team that needs a young veteran. Who could that team be? I asked Scout.com NFL Senior Reporter Adam Caplan to outline teams that could show an interest. Plus, I came up with two of my own. Find out which teams make the most sense for Simms right here.
Simms is probably one of the most stand-up guys I've met in pro football. Even with everything that has happened to him here in Tampa Bay, Simms still deals with the media and his teammates with an even, professional keel. There's still respect for him in that locker room.
But now that Simms has made it clear that he no longer respects his head coach enough to play for him, and the Bucs have made it clear by their actions that they're moving on, there's nothing left to do but the pair to part ways.
But will it be on waivers or by trade? That's the only remaining drama left.
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association.