The Buccaneers' overhaul of their offensive line continues with the expected signing of Cincinnati's Anthony Collins, who has the versatility to play left or right tackle. The signing of Collins to a lucrative long-term deal likely means the end of left tackle Donald Penn's tenure in Tampa Bay.
After signing former Cincinnati defensive end Michael Johnson, the Buccaneers added another Bengals free agent by signing offensive tackle Anthony Collins. Collins signed a five-year, $30 million deal, according to reports.
The addition of Collins, who is expected to play left tackle, but can also play right tackle, makes veteran Donald Penn expendable. Penn, who will be 31 this year, has started 108 consecutive games at left tackle since taking over the position in 2007. Penn was scheduled to earn $6.75 million in base salary and have a salary cap value over $8 million in 2013. Penn struggled last year, and
according to Pro Football Focus, gave up the second-most
sacks (2011) in the NFL at his position.
fourth-round pick in 2008 out of Kansas, had a solid 2013 season playing in 15 games for Cincinnati with eight starts, filling in at times for injured left tackle Andrew Whitworth and replacing right tackle Andre Smith for poor play on a few occasions. According to Pro Football Focus, Collins played in 389 pass plays last year, allowing no sacks, just one quarterback hit and 14 QB pressures. With the Bengals investing heavily into Whitworth and Smith, Collins was deemed expendable once his contract demands were more than Cincinnati was willing to pay.
The athletic Collins, who was a teammate of former Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib at KU, is known as a solid technician with quick feet and great hands. He's also a smart player, evidenced by just three holding penalties, two false starts, two illegal formations and one unnecessary roughness penalty in 53 NFL games.
In six seasons, Collins has yet to play in all 16 games, and his eight starts last year was a career high. But the Bucs feel he has developed enough to become a full-time starter, and have been encouraged by the fact that the 6-foot-5, 315-pounder has not given up a sack in the last 37 games, including 13 starts.
Tampa Bay's offensive line was in need of a major overhaul this season as the unit was the NFL's highest paid last year, totaling $31.695 million. The Bucs spent $55.787
million on offense as a whole, so the $31.695 million represents 56.8
percent of that allocated money. No team in 2013 spent more money on the
offensive line or had a higher percentage of spending on the offensive
line than the Bucs.
On Saturday, the Bucs released right guard Davin Joseph, freeing up $6 million worth of salary cap space. The Bucs still have a hole there, so the team is far from done overhauling its offensive line. There is a chance the Bucs could release offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah, who has started at center and guard during his career, or force him to take a pay cut as he is scheduled to earn $4.25 million in base salary in 2014.
Tampa Bay could pursue Pro Bowl center Alex Mack, who played for new Buccaneers offensive line coach George Warhop in Cleveland last year, and also for new Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford when he was the head coach at the University of California. Although obtaining Mack could prove to be difficult as the Browns have placed the transition tag on Mack, giving them to chance to match any free agent offer.
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