Buccaneers free agent center John Wade's five-year tenure in Tampa Bay officially came to an end Monday when he signed a contract with the Oakland Raiders.

Wade, 33, originally joined the Bucs as a free agent in 2003. He started all but eight games for Tampa Bay before becoming an unrestricted free agent on Feb. 29.

Tampa Bay entered the offseason determined to upgrade the center position and it appeared to do that when the Bucs signed New Orleans Saints free agent C Jeff Faine to a six-year, $37.5 million contract, which made the former first-round draft pick the highest-paid center in the NFL.

The Bucs were interested in keeping Wade, who has started 106 of the 126 games he's played in his career, as a reserve center, but he signed with the Raiders with hopes of starting in Oakland.

Tampa Bay still is looking to add depth to its center position as Wade is now in Oakland and C Matt Lehr signed with New Orleans earlier this month.

The Bucs still are targeting Oakland's starting center from the 2007 season, Jeremy Newberry.

The Bucs have already made a contract offer to the 6-foot-5, 310-pound Newberry, who has started 104 games but missed 36 games during a three-year period (2004-06) due to knee injuries.

Newberry, 32, is a former Pro Bowler. He has not visited One Buccaneer Place this offseason. His return to Oakland appears to be unlikely after the Raiders' signing of Wade on Monday.
 

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