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Don't plan on Plummer, his former coach says
High school coach doesn't believe money or competition will drive 'retired' QB into Bucs camp.
By RICK STROUD
Published July 19, 2007
[Getty Images (2006)]
Jake Plummer says he's retired, but the Bucs don't have to list him that way.
TAMPA - Jake Plummer's former high school coach recently approached the former Broncos quarterback about whether he planned to play for the Bucs (or any other team) this season.
"I had one conversation with him in passing," said Steve Vogel, coach of Capital High School in Boise, Idaho.
"He said, 'They don't believe me down there (in Tampa), but I'm done.' "
Just one week before Bucs players report to training camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, there are no indications that Plummer plans to be among them.
The 32-year-old announced his intentions to retire six days after being traded by Denver to the Bucs on March 2.
It's unknown whether Plummer formally has submitted his retirement papers to the NFL. It's also irrelevant.
Plummer has three years and about $15.9-million remaining on his contract, which was traded to the Bucs in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2008 (if he returns to football) or a seventh-round pick (if he doesn't).
According to NFL procedures, if a player is under contract at the time of his retirement, it is his club's responsibility to determine his roster status. The club's options include, but are not limited to, the reserve/retired category.
That's what general manager Bruce Allen meant when he recently said that Plummer can't "unilaterally" retire.
"We traded for him with the intent of him playing for the Buccaneers," Allen said. "He knows that, and we've been very clear what we see for him and his future. We'll just have to see if we have a meeting of the minds."
The Bucs are trying to convince Plummer to report to training camp, hoping that his competitive fires might be stoked. They want him to compete with Jeff Garcia, Chris Simms, Bruce Gradkowski and Luke McCown.
If Plummer reports and then decides not to play, the Bucs might agree not to go after his more than $7-million in prorated signing bonus.
But Vogel said Plummer probably doesn't want the uncertainty of his role with a new team.
"The only thing I can think of is maybe Jake just didn't want to be in the grind of having to compete for a job," Vogel said. "He'd want to know that he was going to be the guy."
Plummer has kept an extremely low profile since the trade. He's made some charitable appearances, including one in his native Idaho. Vogel said Plummer is a simple man who would have no trouble walking away from the $5.3-million salary he could earn this season.
"I think most people, myself included, would be happy making $5-million to hold the clipboard," Vogel said. "But money doesn't rule his life, especially after the position he was in making a lot of money.
"He's never led that extravagant lifestyle. Years ago I was with him and he bought a shirt at the secondhand store. He's real practical. He didn't have all the fancy cars and stuff and drives around in a Honda Element. It's real practical and speaks to Jake's sense of values."
It's no secret why Bucs coach Jon Gruden would covet Plummer. Garcia is 37 and the Bucs have used three quarterbacks in each of the past three seasons. Simms is still recovering from surgery to remove his spleen in September. And Gradkowski struggled as a rookie in his 11 starts.
A 10-year veteran, Plummer has started 136 games in stints with Arizona and Denver, passing for 29,253 yards with 161 touchdowns and 161 interceptions. He lost his job to rookie Jay Cutler late last season.
"Jake has always kind of done his own thing," Vogel said. "Retiring didn't surprise me. It wouldn't even surprise me if in a year or so he decides to come back.
"Selfishly, I'd love to see him keep playing. But I know pretty well in my mind that he's done."