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Arming Up: Bucs Lure Garcia to Tampa

The Buccaneers have seriously improved the depth, experience and talent level of their quarterback position with Saturday’s signing of three-time Pro Bowler Jeff Garcia


QB Jeff Garcia directed the Eagles to a 5-1 record and a playoff berth after replacing Donovan McNabb last season

Wasting little time in securing the services of one of last season's hottest players, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed quarterback Jeff Garcia, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers. Last year, Garcia led the Eagles to the NFC East title, going 5-1 as a starter and posting a passer rating of 95.8 while filling in for the injured Donovan McNabb.

The Buccaneers signed Garcia on Saturday – just the second day of the 2007 free agency period – after Philadelphia allowed the 37-year-old quarterback to become an unrestricted free agent. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Garcia joins fellow signal callers Chris Simms, Bruce Gradkowski and Luke McCown on the Buccaneers' roster, and the team might not be done addressing that position.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection (2001-03) while at San Francisco, where he began his NFL career, Garcia entered last season as McNabb's backup after spending the previous two years with Detroit and Cleveland.

However, a season-ending injury to McNabb during a Week 11 contest against the Tennessee Titans forced Garcia into action for the Eagles, who at the time were just 5-5 and in danger of missing the postseason.

Under the direction of the veteran quarterback, the Eagles flourished. After losing his initial start of the season against the eventual champion Indianapolis Colts, Garcia would lead Philadelphia to five straight wins and the team's fifth division title in six years. During that stretch, Garcia completed 62 percent of his passes (116 of 187 attempts) for 1,309 yards, 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He again led Philadelphia to victory in a Wild Card game against the New York Giants before the Eagles finally came up short the following week against the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round of the '06 playoffs.

For Garcia, who set a number of passing marks with the 49ers and is among the NFL's all-time best in touchdown-to-interception ratio (1.86 – 136 TDs/73 INTs), that high level of play was simply a return to form after two years in Cleveland then Detroit that were marred by injury.

In 2004, Garcia started 10 games with the Browns before being placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. Still, he matched a career high with four touchdown passes in a single game and tossed a career-long 99-yard touchdown pass. The following season, Garcia signed with the Lions but was limited to only six games after suffering an injury in the preseason.

It was with San Francisco where the 6-1, 205-pound Garcia made a name for himself. After playing five seasons in the Canadian Football League, Garcia signed with the 49ers as a free agent in 1999. Few expected Garcia – a relative unknown at the time –to have the impact he would deliver.

In five seasons with San Francisco, the determined Garcia didn't just play well, he put himself in line with the legendary 49ers quarterbacks who played before him, i.e. Joe Montana and Steve Young. As if always looking to prove his doubters wrong, Garcia consistently raised his game, becoming the first quarterback in San Francisco history to complete 300 or more passes in three consecutive seasons (2000-2002). He also became the first 49ers quarterback to throw for 30 or more touchdowns in back-to-back seasons (2000-01). And in 2000, Garcia threw for a 49ers franchise record 4,278 yards. Along the way, he directed the second-largest postseason comeback in NFL history, erasing a 24-point deficit against the New York Giants in an NFC Wild Card Game in 2003.

To date, Garcia has played in 99 games, making 92 starts. He has completed 1,811 of 2,972 passes for 20,385 yards, with 136 touchdown passes and 73 interceptions, for a career passer rating of 86.4. He has thrown for more than 2,500 yards five times in his career, and has authored 11 fourth-quarter, come-from-behind wins, including two last season with the Eagles.

A three-year starter at San Jose State after transferring from Gavilan College, Garcia ranks first in school history with 7,274 yards of total offense and third on the Spartans' all-time career lists in yards, completions and passer rating. His father, Bob, was athletic director and football coach at Gavilan College in California and his grandfather coached at Gilroy High School.

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