A week after re-signing a young quarterback with a seemingly bright future, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have turned a cold shoulder to a proven yet injury-prone veteran.
Jeff Garcia, who turns 39 on Feb. 24 -- three days before the start of the NFL's free-agency period -- has been told by the Buccaneers that he would not be retained for a third season.
"My time in Tampa has come to an end,'' Garcia said, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
Garcia told the newspaper Sunday night that Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik discussed the quarterback's future with his agent, Steve Baker.
"I'm not under contract and I'm about to hit free agency, and that means it's time again for me to just move on,'' Garcia said, according to the Times. "It is disappointing because I enjoyed the atmosphere and the team environment in that locker room."
The Bucs re-signed quarterback Luke McCown to a two-year, $7.5 million deal last week, a month after promoting defensive coordinator Raheem Morris to head coach upon firing Jon Gruden.
"Change is needed at times," Garcia said. "Sometimes it's how you tweak it, not change it. With a new head coach, they want somebody pulling the trigger that they can mold. Beyond that, I don't know why they're making the move.''
Garcia, a 10-year veteran who has also played for the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles, was 14-10 with the Bucs the past two regular seasons, helping lead them to the playoffs in 2007, when he was selected to his fourth Pro Bowl.
But injury problems led to his benching early last season and forced him to miss a crucial game down the stretch, during which Tampa Bay lost its last four games and missed the playoffs at 9-7.
"I do feel like I have football life in me,'' Garcia said. "I feel I can still contribute. I'm not sure what my role will be with another team. I'm not looking at it like I need to start and be the man ... Hopefully, I'll have some opportunities out there. I'm pretty sure there's going to be something out there for me.
"I think what started in Philly and continued in Tampa was the rejuvenation of me and the fire coming back and the excitement of the game and the thrill of playing the game again. I had a great time playing in front of those fans in Tampa. We'll miss Tampa."