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Monday, March 12, 2012
Report: Bucs to release Jeff Faine

By Pat Yasinskas

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are likely to release veteran center Jeff Faine prior to the start of free agency Tuesday afternoon, according to this report by Stephen Holder.

Although Tampa Bay is roughly $43 million under the salary cap and doesn’t have to make any moves prior to free agency, there seems to be logic to this move.

Faine will turn 31 in April. Although he started 15 games last season, he dealt with injury problems in the seasons before that. Then there’s the financial aspect. Since the Bucs already have absorbed all the prorations on Faine’s contract, there would be no salary-cap implications if they release him. In fact, they instantly would clear up $5.925 million in cap room.

The Bucs recently signed Jeremy Zuttah, who played guard in the past, to a new contract. Zuttah played for new coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers and it appears the Bucs could be preparing to move him to center, a position he has sometimes played in the past.

With the extra cap room, the Bucs could do something dramatic and pursue New Orleans’ Carl Nicks, who is expected to become an unrestricted free agent. If the Bucs landed Nicks, they could weaken the Saints.

Nicks and Tampa Bay right guard Davin Joseph both were on the NFC’s Pro Bowl roster last season. Put those two on the flanks of Zuttah and throw in Donald Penn, who is viewed as an above-average left tackle, and the Bucs could have the makings of a very good offensive line. Right tackle Jeremy Trueblood is far from a star, but his level of play could improve with better players around him.