Garcia, Lewis Goners; Hood Has Options

Garcia, Lewis Goners; Hood Has Options

The Eagles have never been big on spending big bucks in free agency and this year is no different. Because of that, the list of players becoming ex-Eagles is growing.

If nothing else, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have veteran quarterbacks. Right after they announced a deal with Denver to bring Jake Plummer to the Sunshine State, they announced the signing of Jeff Garcia. While Garcia didn't post spectacular numbers last season, he led the Eagles to a 5-1 record after taking over for Donovan McNabb. The Bucs had tried to sign Garcia three years ago, but he went to Cleveland instead. This time, he signed a two-year deal with the Buccaneers. "It's an exciting day for me to be here to join forces with Jon Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It's been something that's somewhat been in motion for a number of years now, and it's finally to a point where we can sit down and actually talk about offensive schemes and game plans and do the necessary things that we can do to help this team win football games."

Garcia hasn't been given the job as Tampa Bay's starting quarterback, but he expects to win the job. "I believe that I can start and contribute to this team, but I don't expect it to come without competition. And I think competition is healthy," said Garcia. Ironically, in Philadelphia, Garcia was caught in a bit of a quarterback controversy and another could be brewing in Tampa Bay if Plummer decides not to retire and does play for the Buccaneers. Plus, Gradkowski doesn't figure to give up his starting job easily, but Garcia welcomes the competition. "I welcome it. It's not a situation that I am fearful of. It's not a situation that I would shy away from. I think Chris Simms has had some opportunities on the field where he has done some great things. There are some things that he's still learning to do also. And I think in so many ways I can be a positive influence for him. The same with [Bruce] Gradkowski – a young kid who's very motivated, [he] very much has a drive within himself that somewhat reminds me of myself. I think we'll be good for each other."

Tampa Bay also gave Denver a conditional 2008 Draft choice for the rights to Plummer, who said that he would rather retire than be traded. The arrival of Garcia and Plummer spells bad news for Bruce Gradkowski, who got most of the snaps as Tampa Bay's quarterback last season.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49'ers upgraded in their secondary by signing Buffalo's Nate Clements and the Eagles Michael Lewis. A six-year veteran, Lewis led the Eagles in tackles in 2005 and had 87 in 14 games last season. He had lost his starting job after struggling in back-to-back games while Sean Considine was playing at a higher level.

After surprisingly signing A.J. Feeley to a three-year deal, the handwriting was on the wall for Garcia. Both Tampa Bay and Oakland were pursuing Garcia to be their quarterback.

Then there's Rod Hood, who has a list of teams coming after him. The Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals are both hosting Hood for a visit and it's also expected that the New York Giants will pursue him to add to their secondary.

The Eagles did re-sign Quintin Mikell and Juqua Thomas to new deals this past week, keeping two players that they had listed as priorities to re-sign.

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