Are the opportunities gone for Garcia?

While the Combine is all about judging which players will land where in the draft, anytime you have a bunch of NFL guys in one place, discussions turn to current NFL players. This year, much of the discussion is turning to Jeff Garcia.

It seemed like Jeff Garcia had put himself in perfect position. He put together a nice season taking over as the Eagles quarterback just as he was headed for free agency. Plus, the free agent class isn't an impressive one, especially at quarterback. Matt Schaub, Kerry Collins and Damon Huard are the biggest names competing with Garcia for top considerations. Yeah, it appeared that Garcia was in the perfect spot.

To listen to talk at the NFL Combine, Garcia isn't going to find the respect that he would have figured to get as the top quarterback in the free agent class. One factor is that Garcia turned 37 Saturday and the conventional wisdom is that Garcia can't come in and take over a team and lead them to the playoffs even though that's basically what he did last season with the Eagles. The best that Garcia might hope for is that a team will give him a shot at competing with a younger quarterback to win the starting job. In other words, he would be in camp to push a younger player to the next level and likely wind up right back on the bench. One such opportunity could come in Denver, where the Broncos are expected to release Jake Plummer and look for a veteran to push Jay Cutler.

At one time, the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings were both considered potential employers for Garcia. Talk at the Combine is that neither team has deemed Garcia to be the guy who can take over as their quarterback and improve their team. Tampa Bay and Oakland will be in the hunt for quarterbacks, but Garcia has said that he wants to play for a team that has a legitimate shot at going to the post-season, which would seem to eliminate both of those teams.

Meanwhile, the talk between the Eagles and Garcia's agent Steve Baker is sounding a little tougher. Baker said that if Garcia doesn't sign with the Eagles before free agency begins on Friday, it's unlikely that he'll return to the Eagles. For their part, the Eagles aren't commenting on Garcia or any of their pending free agents.

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