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The Plummer Situation, A Redux

Reggie Rivers was a Denver Bronco in the late 80's - early 90's and still covers the team for CBS4 in Denver.  Rivers wrote a piece about the circus that has become the (un)retirement of Jake Plummer and what he thinks is going on.  It's a good read and worth a couple minutes of your time.

The interesting part of the article begins after the initial traded was reneged becuase of Plummer's annouced retirement.  Rivers goes on to explain --

That's when this whole situation turned wacky. Despite Plummer's imminent retirement, the Buccaneers traded for him anyway. They gave the Broncos a conditional pick in the 2008 draft. During a press conference to announce the deal, Tampa Bay general manager Bruce Allen suggested that Plummer might sit out the 2007 season and return in 2008.

Later that day, Plummer posted a statement on his foundation Web site announcing his retirement. So, after weeks of speculation, it was finally official. Plummer was calling it quits.

This strange episode showed us three things that we've never seen before.

First, I can't recall a player trying to retire as urgently as Plummer was. Generally, if you're no longer interested in playing football, then you just drift away. You don't need to actively stop your team from cutting you, trading you or keeping you on the roster. If you're not going to play, why would you care what they do? But in Plummer's case, he cared, because he didn't want the Broncos to gain anything of value.

Second, aside from those rare occasions, when a legendary player is traded back to his original team so that he can retire under their banner, I can't recall another instance in which a team was in such a hurry to trade a player who was on the verge of retirement. Plummer was screaming from the mountain-tops that he was quitting, so the Broncos were scrambling to find a team that would give them at least a crumb for him. Tampa Bay's conditional 2008 pick is exactly that, a crumb.

Third, I can't recall another situation in which a team was determined to trade for a retiring player, especially one they didn't need. I think that the Buccaneers sincerely wanted Plummer, but once Plummer made it clear that he was retiring, they signed Garcia. At that point, the Bucs didn't need Jake, but they traded for him anyway. Their motive probably was that they recognized that Plummer was a great talent, and he would be valuable as trade bait, especially since they paid so little to acquire him. If he stays retired, the trade costs Tampa Bay little or nothing. If he comes out of retirement, the Bucs might get a player or two in exchange for him.

Finally, here is why Plummer's negotiating leverage is much better than it was prior to all of these maneuverings. At the quarterback position, the Buccaneers now have Garcia, Simms, Plummer and Bruce Gradkowski. They don't need all those guys, and they especially don't need Plummer at $5.3 million this year.

Sounds to me there might have been a little collusion involving Plummer and the Buccaneers after Tampa signed Jef Garcia.  Could Jake have called the Bucs after Garcia signed and expressed a desire for them to make the deal in order to fascilitate the trade to a team of Jake's liking at a later date?  Think about it.  Jake realizes that the Buccaneeres no longer "need" him, and also knows the Bus would have no problem trading back into the AFC.  Under that scenario, Plummer, who still has not filed his retirement paperwork with the league, would sit idle for awhile before either showing up at Training Camp for the Bucs, due $5.3 dollars.  Of course Tampa wouldn't want to pay him  that, not with 3 other QB's on the roster, an will look to move him.  All of a sudden the Texans come back into play, or perhaps the Raiders, though I can't see Gruden or Bruce Allen doing business with Al Davis.

How realisitc is that scenario?  To me, it's possible.  Jake is nothing if not a man of principle and I agree with Rivers' assertion that Jake would retire out of principle alone before allowing the Broncos to be rewarded for his services.  

I still think the same reasons the Texans didn't trade for him before would exist now.  If the Texans were unwilling to trade a 4th or 5th round pick to the Broncos for Plummer, why would they all of a sudden trade one to the Bucs, as Rivers implies?  What other teams are there?  Gruden and Allen have Raider ties that would preclude them from dealing with the Raiders, and the Texans wanted Plummer for free when he was on the cheap.

It is all good drama, and probably good fiction as well.  If Plummer is a man of prinicple then he needs to stand up for those.  Jake Plummer felt strongly enough in his disdain for the Denver Broncos to walk away from the game he loves to keep Shanny and the Broncos from getting the best of him.   It shows just how delicate his desire to play football is, and how easily his emotions can get the best of him.  Time for Plummer to do what he really wants, and that's join the Peace Corp and walk the earth, like Caine in "Kung Fu".  We found out Pat Tillman's conscience couldn't be bought for $3.5 million, is Jake Plummer's worth $5.3?