Gruden plans to hold a roster spot for QB Plummer
The coach who loves to collect quarterbacks has six passers working at his team's minicamp this week. And Jon Gruden of Tampa Bay, whose quarterback depth chart is never quite deep enough for his liking, wouldn't mind having a seventh on hand for training camp.
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Ten-year veteran Jake Plummer, acquired by the Buccaneers in a March 3 trade with the Denver Broncos, has not reported to this week's three-day minicamp. But Gruden continues to woo Plummer despite his stated intention to retire from the NFL, and acknowledged this week he will hold a roster spot open for him.
"We're talking about Jake Plummer here, so we'll reserve a roster spot for the 'Snake' a little while longer," Gruden said. "If it was Jake Jones or Jake Johnson or Jake Gruden, we'd probably bypass the holding pattern we're in right now. [But] this is one heck of a football player who has accomplished a great deal. At this point, he's retired, and hopefully, at some point, he changes his mind or reconsiders."
Plummer hasn't spoken much in the offseason about his retirement plans. Although there is plenty of speculation the 32-year-old Plummer will still return to the field in 2007, sources close to him insist he is steadfast about not playing.
That said, Plummer has not yet filed his retirement paperwork with the league. And Gruden seems to sense the door remains open for a possible comeback.
The Bucs' roster already includes veteran quarterbacks Jeff Garcia, Chris Simms, Bruce Gradkowski and Luke McCown, along with youngsters Bruce Eugene and Zac Taylor. Even minus Plummer, it is the NFL's most populated quarterback depth chart. But Gruden, who said last week that Garcia is the front-runner for the starting job and reiterated that status on the first day of minicamp, is a coach who historically is never quite satisfied with the talent he has at the position. Plus, he has always been partial to veteran signal-callers.
In fact, the acquisition of Plummer was made on the same day the Bucs agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent Garcia on a two-year contract.
Gruden has declined to say whether he has spoken to Plummer about reporting to training camp. But it is believed the two men spoke recently, with Gruden reiterating his desire to have Plummer report to work next month.
It will be interesting to see if the Bucs attempt to financially sanction Plummer for staying away from this week's minicamp. Because the minicamp is mandatory, and Plummer is technically under contract for three more years, he may be subject to fines.
And when the Bucs acquired Plummer from Denver for a seventh-round draft pick, which can escalate to a fourth-rounder if he does not retire, they also gained the right to try to recoup part of the bonus money that he received from the Broncos if he does not report.
In 143 games, including 136 starts in Arizona (1997-2002) and Denver (2003-06), Plummer has completed 2,484 of 4,350 passes for 29,253 yards, with 161 touchdown passes and 161 interceptions, for a passer rating of 74.6.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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