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Garcia eager to end his career with Bucs
By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer
Published January 6, 2008
TAMPA - Jeff Garcia wants to finish his career in Tampa Bay.
The 37-year-old quarterback said he will ask the Bucs to extend his contract by at least a year or two this offseason.
"I've gone through those experiences, and I do want stability, I do want to be settled, I do want this to be my last stop," Garcia said. "I want to be able to finish my career right here in Tampa.
"I feel like we've taken a step in the right direction, and hopefully we can create an opportunity - maybe it happens this offseason - where we can lengthen the contract and not really even have to think about it anymore and go about these next three, four, five years - whatever it is. ... I feel like right now that I'm still scratching the surface. That I still can get better."
Garcia, who has played for five teams in as many years, signed a two-year, $7-million contract in March. The deal included $5-million in signing bonus and guarantees in 2007. He is scheduled to earn a base salary of $2-million next year.
It's exactly the same contract given to quarterback Chris Simms in December 2006. But Simms is on injured reserve, has played in three games in two years and is likely to be traded or released before the 2008 season.
This season, Garcia passed for 2,440 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions while completing 63.9 percent of his passes. He missed three games with a lower back contusion and was held out of all or parts of two others.
Garcia said that playing under Bucs coach Jon Gruden has expanded his learning curve.
"I feel like I'm learning so much more football. I feel like I've been challenged mentally in a way since I came to Tampa more so than I've been challenged anywhere else," Garcia said. "And it's not to say I didn't study and I didn't understand our game plan (with other teams) because there was successful things taking place on the field.
"But I feel like what I'm attempting to grasp, or what Coach Gruden would like me to grasp, is still out there. I'm still working to get to that point, but it feels good to be challenged in those sort of ways."
RING IN THE NEW YEAR: The retirement of former Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp and the possible retirement of former safety John Lynch and fullback Mike Alstott should be enough to make the Glazer family think about installing a ring of honor at Raymond James Stadium.
Although no players have worn Sapp's or Lynch's uniform numbers since the two left Tampa Bay, those numbers should be retired. Eventually, linebacker Derrick Brooks, cornerback Ronde Barber, Alstott, Simeon Rice and coach Tony Dungy should join them.
"Now I have another player to campaign for," Brooks said.