Simms Foregoes Free Agency

Tampa Bay quarterback Chris Simms has agreed to terms on a two-year deal worth an estimated $14 million rather than test his market value in free agency.

Chris Simms took verbal shots from his coach and was beaten up until a ruptured spleen ended his season. But Simms is back for more. The 26-year-old quarterback has agreed to terms on a two-year deal worth as much as $14 million.

Simms decided to forgo free agency for the chance to return as the Bucs' starter.

Simms suffered a ruptured spleen in the Bucs 26-24 loss to Carolina on Sept. 24th. Prior to his injury, Simms had struggled. He went 0-3 with one touchdown and seven interceptions.

Simms also didn't appear to be a very good fit for Jon Gruden's offense. But Simms insists he can return to his 2005 form when he went 5-1 against the NFC South and led the Bucs to a division title.

"I have a lot of confidence in the people who make the decisions in this organization and they think I can get it done," Simms said. "And I believe in me."

Bucs QB Tim Rattay (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Certainly, the Bucs quarterback position has been unstable. Tim Rattay became the seventh different quarterback to start a game in five seasons under Gruden. Rattay led the Bucs to a 22-6 win over the Cleveland Browns Sunday, his first start with the Bucs. But Rattay will be a free agent at the end of the season.

Rookie Bruce Gradkowski, a sixth-round pick from Toledo, had some nice moments but he struggled more with each game until he was benched after going 3-8 as a starter.

Simms is expected to sign Tuesday. But the Bucs won't stop there. They are $30 million under the salary cap and are expected to sign a veteran free agent.

The Bucs also have third-year pro Luke McCown, who spent the first six weeks on the Physically Unable to Perform list because of a torn ACL he suffered on the final day of minicamp last May.

"I'm very anxious to get back out there this off-season and start proving myself again," McCown said.

Rattay played well in his first start, completing 16-of-26 passes for 212 yards with one interception. But the Bucs put the game away by taking the second half kickoff and driving 74 yards in nine plays for a touchdown.

"We moved the ball in the first half, but we've got to score touchdowns when we get down there," said Rattay. "That kind of kept us in the situation we were in. That's why the first drive of the third quarter was so big.

"It was fun to be out there. It was fun to get hit, fun to see guys making plays again."

--S Jermaine Phillips had two interceptions Sunday at Cleveland. It was the first INT in 28 games for Phillips.
--LB Derrick Brooks returned and interception 21 yards for a touchdown Sunday at Cleveland. It was the eighth touchdown of Brooks' career.
--FB Mike Alstott had 21 carries Sunday at Cleveland, his most since 2002, the year the Bucs won the Super Bowl.
--WR Maurice Stovall made his first NFL start Sunday at Cleveland, replacing Ike Hilliard.
--CB Phillip Buchanon had his second INT of the season for the Bucs Sunday at Cleveland. Buchanon is now the starter at RCB.

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