After solidifying the run defense and kicking game, the Buccaneers made their first major splash into the 2018 NFL Free Agency period by signing former Ravens Center Ryan Jensen, according to the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
The #Bucs signed C Ryan Jensen to a four-year, $42 million deal with $22M guaranteed, source said. Big.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 17, 2018
Jensen is the Bucs’ largest external investment of the off-season but is he worth the money?
Jensen is a feisty 5-year veteran who established himself as the Ravens’ starting center in 2017. Considered one of the best available offensive linemen in free agency, Jensen was ranked in the top ten in run blocking and sixth in the NFL among centers in the NFL in pass blocking efficiency rating by Pro Football Focus. Per Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds, Jensen allowed 0.7 QB hurries and 0.13 sacks per game in 2016-17.
Jensen has the size the Bucs want at 6-4, 319 lbs and brings a Joe Hawley-type nastiness to the center of the Bucs’ line.
How Jensen Fits With The Bucs
While Jensen has the ability to play both guard and center, it’s believed he will be taking over in the middle of the Bucs offensive line, allowing Ali Marpet to move back to guard. Jensen should give the Bucs that Joe Hawley spunk but at a size, the Bucs covet at Center. Meanwhile, Marpet can move back to a position he excelled at during his first year in the league.
To date, this is the largest deal of the free agent frenzy for Tampa Bay. The Bucs made Jensen the highest paid center in the league with a massive four-year, $42-million contract with $22-million guaranteed With his signing, it’s unlikely the Bucs will do much more in terms of adding more offensive line help. The Bucs may add a few more minor deals but this is most likely the last big one they’ll do (unless they begin cutting some players).
We all know the Bucs desperately needed help on the offensive line and Jensen is an upgrade. While not an Alex Mack or Justin Britt, he’s improved every year in the league and was at times dominant for a Ravens offense that ranked 11th in the league in rushing. What’s really interesting is how with this impact Marpet? The Bucs really seemed to like having Ali Marpet at center, but he seemed to be much more dominant as a guard. Jensen could make Tampa Bay more comfortable in moving Marpet back to the guard position he dominated in his first couple season. As for Jensen, is he worth the money? Probably not, but he’ll make the Bucs better and that’s all you really want.