Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2008 Offseason Position Analysis: Quarterbacks


The successful pickup of Jeff Garcia a year ago means the Bucs may not need to address the QB position in free agency this spring

After the Brian Griese trade gave the Bucs six QBs under contract, the team would seem to be set at the position...but is it? As is often shown in the NFL, you can never have too many talented passers, and there may still be developments this offseason

  • In the weeks prior to the 2008 NFL Draft, Buccaneers.com will analyze each position on the team in regards to the draft, looking at depth, selection history and available players. As usual, this look at the draft, free agency and the Bucs' roster is not intended to reflect the intentions or strategies of the team's personnel decision-makers. Today we focus on the quarterback position, where the Bucs have a full house of players under contract at the moment.*

It looks as if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' strategy for assembling quarterbacks in 2008 may be summed up with the old saying, "there's strength in numbers."

The recent acquisition of veteran signal-caller Brian Griese brought the total number of quarterbacks under contract with the Bucs to six, as Griese joins starter Jeff Garcia plus Bruce Gradkowski, Luke McCown, Jake Plummer and Chris Simms as players to which the Bucs hold rights.

But a mile-long list of quarterbacks were forced into action for teams across the NFL in 2007, so it's fair to say that depth at such a crucial position is a good idea.

Although two of the Bucs quarterbacks, Plummer and Simms, combined for zero snaps in 2007, the team surely feels confident going forward that a solid, deep rotation of signal-callers can be forged out of the current numbers. That does not rule out the possibility of additions or revisions to that group.

Most importantly, the team is set in the starting lineup. Garcia excelled in his first year in Tampa in 2007, earning a Pro Bowl nod after completing nearly 64 percent of his passes for 2,440 yards and 13 touchdowns against only four touchdowns.

Griese, a former starter in Tampa, would seem like a strong choice to be Garcia's top backup. Griese played in seven contests with the Bears last season, throwing for 1,803 yards, 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He rejoins the Bucs after spending the 2004 and 2005 seasons in pewter and red; in 2004, he set a team record with a passer rating of 97.5 in 10 starts.

McCown showed promise in his limited action in 2007, playing in five games (three starts). Pressed into action after a back injury to Garcia, McCown started two games, winning one, and finished the year throwing for 1,009 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. He also showed the ability to scramble when necessary, picking up another 117 yards on 12 carries.

Meanwhile, Gradkowski saw action in only four games in 2007 with no starts. In his limited action, Gradkowski passed for 130 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. He did open 10 games as a rookie in 2006 after a season-ending injury to Simms.

Simms tried to make a comeback from the severe abdominal injury he suffered in 2006 but a complication in his recovery saw him land on injured reserve again in October.

Finally, Plummer spent the entire 2007 campaign away from the league. However unlikely it may be that Plummer can be convinced to return, the Buccaneers still hold his rights in the event he makes a comeback.

Here's a look at the quarterbacks the Bucs have under contract:

**Quarterbacks Currently Under Contract**
**Player****Exp.****2007 (Yds.-Comp.%-TDs-Int)****Career (Yds.-Comp.%-TDs-Int)**
Jeff Garcia102,440-63.9-13-422,825-61.2-149-77
Bruce Gradkowski3130-54.2-0-11,791-54.0-9-10
Brian Griese*111,803-61.5-10-1218,637-62.9-114-92
Luke McCown51,009-67.6-5-31,617-59.9-9-10
Jake Plummer**110-0-0-029,253-57.1-161-161
Chris Simms***60-0-0-03,087-59.1-12-17

Griese was acquired by the Bucs in a trade with the Chicago Bears on March 3; 2007 stats were accrued with Chicago*The Buccaneers retain the rights to Plummer, who has not played since the 2006 season Simms missed the entire 2007 season with complications from the abdominal injury he suffered in 2006*

As for any free agent quarterbacks on the roster, the Bucs have none. Every passer on the roster is signed through at least the 2008 season.

Here's a breakdown of the quarterback position as the team heads into the 2008 season:

Quarterback Position Numbers:

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