New Orleans Saints free agent center Jeff Faine was in Tampa on Friday to officially sign with the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay made Faine the highest-paid center in the NFL by inking him to a six-year, $37.5 million contract that included a $15 million signing bonus.
"I’m really excited to be part of the Buccaneers franchise and have the opportunity to work with Coach Gruden and my new teammates,” said Faine. “I’m especially looking forward to working in this offense and helping Tampa Bay defend the NFC South title.”
Faine, 26, has started all 66 games he's played in since entering the NFL in 2003 as a first-round draft pick out of Notre Dame.
The 6-foot-3, 291-pound Faine replaces John Wade, 33, as Tampa Bay's starting center. Wade, whose contract with Tampa Bay expired on Friday, had started all but eight regular season games at center for the Bucs since the 2003 season.
Not only has Tampa Bay found its future center, it will has stolen its division rival's starting center in the process.
After spending the first three years of his career with the Cleveland Browns, Faine spent the past two seasons with the New Orleans Saints, where he helped lead a potent ground attack that featured running backs Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush.
Faine was also part of a New Orleans offensive line that allowed quarterback Drew Brees to be sacked just 34 times over the past two seasons.
The Bucs still are interested in re-signing C Matt Lehr, who like Wade, became an unrestricted free agent on Friday.
In other news, the Buccaneers have re-signed restricted free agent linebacker Antoine Cash, who has appeared in 19 career games. His biggest impact has come on special teams, where he's notched 19 tackles. Cash missed the entire 2007 season due to a torn ACL he suffered in preseason.
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