Monday, April 6, 2009
Raiders, Garcia agree to deal
ESPN.com news services
OAKLAND, Calif. -- After a four-team, five-season odyssey since leaving the San Francisco 49ers, Jeff Garcia finally found his way back home to the Bay Area -- albeit on the other side from where he started.
The four-time Pro Bowl quarterback joined the Oakland Raiders on Monday, with the 39-year-old passer agreeing to a one-year deal to be JaMarcus Russell's backup.
Raiders senior executive John Herrera told The Associated Press that Garcia will join the club's offseason workout program immediately in the next stage of a remarkable NFL career that didn't begin until 1999 after a long detour to the Canadian Football League.
Garcia spent the past two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, starting 24 games while leading them to a division title and a playoff berth in 2007, when he also earned his fourth Pro Bowl berth. Despite solid numbers last season -- 2,712 yards passing and a 90.2 passer rating with 12 touchdowns and just six interceptions -- he wasn't re-signed by the Bucs and new coach Raheem Morris, who apparently is going with Brian Griese or Luke McCown at the position.
Garcia, who will be paid more than the league minimum by Oakland, is a native of Gilroy, Calif., just south of San Jose. Although several teams had interest in Garcia as a backup, he chose the Raiders for the chance to continue his career close to home with a familiar coaching staff, including passing game coordinator Ted Tollner, a former 49ers assistant.
Garcia played at San Jose State and enjoyed the best seasons of his NFL career with San Francisco. He passed for 16,408 yards and 113 touchdowns for the team he grew up supporting, making three Pro Bowls and two playoff appearances from 1999 to 2003 after joining the Niners from a Grey Cup-winning career in the CFL.
Garcia also cites a game at the Coliseum in November 2002 as one of the proudest moments of his NFL career. He led the 49ers to a 23-20 overtime victory over the Raiders, passing for 282 yards and completing 17 of his 19 passes after halftime while San Francisco ran the game's final 30 plays in a remarkable display of ball-control offense.
After the 49ers released him in a cost-cutting move by former general manager Terry Donahue, Garcia bounced to the Cleveland Browns (2004), Detroit Lions (2005), Philadelphia Eagles (2006) -- where he won another division title and made another playoff appearance -- and Tampa Bay, never finding a long-term home.
Despite loud suggestions by fans late last season at Candlestick Park, the 49ers never appeared interested in pursuing Garcia to compete for their muddled starting job with Shaun Hill and Alex Smith, signing 35-year-old career backup Damon Huard instead.
In other Raiders news, Oakland signed Vikings offensive tackle Marcus Johnson, a source told ESPN's John Clayton.
Terms of the deal weren't immediately available. Johnson becomes the third new addition to the line, joining Samson Satele and Khalif Barnes.
Johnson was a second-round choice of the Vikings in 2005. The 27-year-old Johnson started 18 games for the Vikings during his four years.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.