Tampa Bay attempted to upgrade its offensive line by signing Minnesota free agent guard Toniu Fonoti to a one-year contract on Friday.

The 6-foot-4, 350-pound Fonoti has started 33 of the 34 games he’s played in since entering the NFL in 2002 as a second-round draft pick with San Diego.

After spending three and a half seasons with the Chargers, Fonoti was traded to the Vikings on October 18, 2005 for an undisclosed pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.

Fonoti played in just three games (two starts with San Diego, one with Minnesota) last season before being placed on injured reserve with a severe groin strain.

A former Nebraska Cornhusker, Fonoti agreed to a one-year contract with Oakland earlier in the week, but he reportedly failed his physical, which voided his contract with the Raiders and made him a free agent again.

Fonoti, who helped create running lanes for San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson in 2002 and 2004 (missed 2003 due to injury) apparently passed Tampa Bay’s physical, evidenced by the fact that he signed with the Bucs on Friday. Fonoti is expected to compete with Jeb Terry and Sean Mahan for Tampa Bay’s starting right guard position.

In other news, free agent wide receivers Kevin Johnson (Detroit) and Marc Boerigter (Kansas City) visited One Buc Place on Friday.

Tampa Bay general manager Bruce Allen still is in negotiations with Tom Mills, who is the agent for New England free agent tackle Tom Ashworth. The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins also are interested in signing Ashworth.

In addition to Ashworth, the Bucs also have visited with free agent tackles Jason Fabini (New York Jets), Brad Hopkins (Tennessee) and Mike Pearson (Jacksonville).


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