A report this weekend stated veteran Bucs offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah could be on the trade block after the signing of Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith. But Zuttah's agent told PewterReport.com that all of the conversations with Tampa Bay have been positive and Zuttah is preparing to be a Buccaneer in the fall.
When Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith was signed as a free agent by the Buccaneers last Friday, the question of Jeremy Zuttah’s future, along with his $4 million salary came into question. Two starters from last season’s starting five, Davin Joseph and tackle Donald Penn, have already been released, and some have wondered if Zuttah could be next.
And while a release is not out of the question, Zuttah, unlike Joseph and Penn, may have some trade value. CBSSports.com Insider Jason La Canfora wrote via Twitter on Sunday, Zuttah could be moved as Tampa Bay is willing to listen to offers for the former Rutgers center.“After signing OL Evan Dietrich-Smith from Packers, Bucs open to listening to offers on OL Jeremy Zuttah. If value not there will keep him. … Bucs, as I’ve noted, prioritized reshaping their OL this offseason and parting w/vets near the end of their deals factors into that. … But ultimately Bucs can still carry Zuttah’s salary if need be and prize his versatility. BAL, IND, NYG among teams w/need at interior OL.”
After the signing of Dietrich-Smith on Friday, PewterReport.com spoke to Zuttah’s agent Noel Lamontagne, who said all is quiet on any movement of his client.
“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.”
Head coach Lovie Smith, while at the Combine in Indianapolis back in February, stated the offensive line failed to live up to the expectations of their salary in 2013.
We didn’t play as well as we need to on our offensive line,” Smith said. “We have a lot of money in our offensive line and we should have better production from it. Right now we didn’t play as well as we need to in order to compete on the offensive side of the football, and again that evaluation process in going on.”
Working in Zuttah’s favor is his versatility. With experience at guard and center, Zuttah is a valuable swing player, but may be asked to reduce his salary if the team determines he will not be a starter. With guard Carl Nicks’ future still in doubt as he recovers from toe surgery and MRSA, Tampa Bay could opt to keep Zuttah as Plan B at guard in case Nicks is unable to resume his career.
Backup guard Ted Larsen, who also played some center, signed as a free agent with Arizona last week, weakening the Bucs already thin depth on the interior of the offensive line.
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