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Simms to get 'starter's money' with new deal

TAMPA, Fla. -- Rather than test free agency at the end of
the season, injured Tampa Bay quarterback Chris Simms is remaining
with the Buccaneers.

Simms, sidelined since the third week of the season after having
his spleen removed, signed a two-year contract extension Wednesday
and looks forward to trying to regain his starting job in 2007.

Terms of the contract were not released, but Simms described the
deal as "starter's money" that shows coach Jon Gruden and
general manager Bruce Allen are committed to him leading the
offense.

"It's definitely a load off my shoulders," Simms, wearing a
T-shirt bearing the words "got spleen?" said.

"I'm happy to be back more than anything. I like living here. I
like the people here and definitely like the organization. I'm
happy it's all done."

Simms, the son of Super Bowl-winning quarterback Phil Simms,
replaced the injured Brian Griese last season and made 10 starts en
route to helping the Bucs win the NFC South and earn a playoff
berth for the first time in three years.

He and the team entered training camp with high expectations
this year, but the 26-year-old quarterback's season came to an
abrupt end in Week Three when he took several hard hits during a
loss to the Carolina Panthers and wound up in the hospital after
the game.

The Bucs initially believed Simms had bruised ribs and was
battling dehydration before he was taken to the emergency room,
where it was determined that his spleen was ruptured and needed to
be removed.

"It's great to have him back. It's unfortunate that he had an
injury to disrupt his season," Gruden said. "He's a young guy
who's paid a price and we're excited to have him back."

Simms was 0-3 and had thrown for one touchdown and seven
interceptions when he was injured. Rookie Bruce Gradkowski went 3-8
over the next 11 games and Tim Rattay won his first start of the
season last week at Cleveland.

Simms, who expects to make a full recovery, said his injury had
nothing to do with his decision to not test his worth on the open
market.

"Nothing's guaranteed anywhere. ... It comes down to what I'm
comfortable with and what I like," the quarterback said.

"The grass isn't always greener on the other side. I like the
offense. I like coach. I like the direction the organization is
going. At the end of the day, there's a lot more ifs about what's
going to happen out there in free agency than what's going to
happen here."