The Bucs continue to make a splash in free agency by overhauling the team's offensive line. On Friday, Tampa Bay added former Green Bay center Evan Dietrich-Smith with a four-year, $14.25-million deal. Does the acquisition of Dietrich-Smith puts Jeremy Zuttah's future with Tampa Bay in question?
The revamping of the Buccaneers' offensive line – and entire roster for that matter – continued on Friday, with Tampa Bay agreeing to terms with Green Bay Packers free agent center Even Dietrich-Smith. According to reports, it is a four-year deal worth $14.25 million, with $7.25 million guaranteed.
Dietrich-Smith started all 16 games for the Packers in 2013 at center, but has the flexibility to also play guard. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Packers out of Idaho State in 2009.
Dietrich spoke about the signing on Friday.
“I actually rooted for the Buccaneers as a kid after meeting John Lynch at a football camp and when he and Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, Simeon Rice and Mike Alstott and all those guys won the Super Bowl, I was pretty pumped,” said Dietrich-Smith. “Hopefully we can do that again. I saw the Buccaneers organization heading in the right direction and when I got to meet the coaching staff I was even more excited. I really connected with o-line coach George Warhop and offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford. Then meeting with Lovie Smith was the clincher. I always heard great things about him from other players around the league and I could sense all those things were true while talking to him. I am really excited to be joining the Buccaneers.”
Dietrich-Smith was involved in one of the more memorable NFL controversies in the last few years when on Thanksgiving Day of 2011 he was stomped by Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who was ejected from the game and later served a two-game suspension.
The Buccaneers added free agent left tackle Anthony Collins on Thursday, and shortly before announcing Collins at a press conference, released veteran offensive tackle Donald Penn, saving the team approximately $7 million in salary cap room. There has been some speculation that center Jeremy Zuttah, who is scheduled to earn $4.25 million in 2014 could become a cap casualty like Penn.
Zuttah’s agent, Noel Lamontagne, talked to PewterReport.com on Friday to discuss the matter.
“All of our conversations with the Buccaneers have been very positive, and all of Jeremy’s conversations with the staff have been positive,” Lamontagne said. “They are a great and professional staff, and are executing their plans for this team. Jeremy is taking care of his business preparing to be a Buccaneer. We both have a lot for respect for Lovie [Smith] and Jason [Licht] and what they are putting together.”
Tampa Bay has been extremely active the start of free agency on Tuesday, signing defensive end Michael Johnson, quarterback Josh McCown, defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, cornerback Alterraun Verner, tight end Brandon Myers, Collins and now Dietrich-Smith.
The Buccaneers also reached agreements with some of their own, re-signing linebacker Jonathan Casillas, offensive lineman Jamon Meredith, wide receiver Eric Page and cornerbacks Danny Gorrer and Deveron Smith.
Tampa Bay was interested in Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman, who was in town this week, but Tillman decided to re-sign with the Bears for one year. The Bucs remain interested in Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
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