In a twist that could scuttle a proposed trade to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, veteran quarterback Jake Plummer told friends and business associates Friday afternoon that he plans to retire from football rather than continue his NFL career in another city.
ESPN.com reported Friday morning that the Denver Broncos had reached agreement in principle on most of the elements of a trade that would send Plummer to the Bucs, where he would compete with Chris Simms for the starting job.
But only a few hours later, it appeared Plummer was ready to carry through on retirement suggestions he made earlier in the offseason, when it first became apparent the Broncos were shopping him in trade talks.
A source in the Tampa Bay organization said Friday afternoon the deal to acquire Plummer is "on hold ... at best." The source indicated that there were ongoing discussions aimed at convincing Plummer to accept the trade and play in 2007, but that the veteran passer was prepared to walk away from the game.
Plummer's older brother, Eric, knew something was up when the veteran QB asked him recently about whether he should retire from playing football.
"The couple of times he broached the subject with me, I felt like he was done,'' Eric Plummer told The Associated Press on Friday night. "As soon as the season was over, he was talking about the fact he didn't know if he wanted to keep playing anymore. He never decided 100 percent."
Under the terms discussed, the Broncos would have received a middle-round draft choice, believed to be a fourth-rounder, in exchange for Plummer. The trade was expected to be announced on Friday, provided all the major details were completed.
But that was before Plummer, scheduled to earn a base salary of $5.3 million for the 2007 season, wavered.
"The trade might have brought that [retirement] to a head,'' Eric Plummer said. "He didn't want to go to a new team, learn a new system, new teammates. He asked me what I thought [of retirement] and I said it was his call. I'll miss watching his
games on Sunday.''
Tampa Bay re-signed Simms to a two-year contract earlier this offseason. But with Simms coming off a 2006 season in which he underwent an emergency splenectomy, the Bucs have been shopping for a veteran quarterback to bolster the depth chart.
Veteran backup Tim Rattay became an unrestricted free agent on Friday and was not expected to return to Tampa Bay.
Plummer, 32, lost his starting job in Denver to rookie Jay Cutler late last season and the Broncos have been entertaining trade offers in the offseason.
"It's professional football. You get traded. We bring in new
guys every year," said Cutler, adding that he heard the news from third-string quarterback Parsons. "They're going to bring another quarterback in sooner or later and he's going to challenge me. So that's part of football, and with Jake, you know there are no hard feelings between us whatsoever.''
A 10-year veteran, Plummer has started 136 games in stints with Arizona (1997-2002) and Denver (2003-2006). He has completed 2,484 of 4,350 passes for 29,253 yards, with 161 touchdown passes and 161 interceptions, for a passer rating of 74.6.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.