With a swipe of his pen on the contract, offensive linemen Ryan Jensen made history on March 16th signing a $48 million dollar contract that earned him the distinction of becoming the highest-paid center in all of the league. While the $22 million guaranteed money is quite a lot, the Bucs front office clearly believes that Jensen is worth locking down for some time. It’s difficult not to like the move: the chance to add a reliable offensive linemen who has shown durability and is still only 26 years old only comes around so often, and these opportunities need to be seized if the Bucs want to improve.
Jensen is a bit of an underdog story, to say the least. He was a largely unheralded prospect after his college career at Division II Colorado State University-Pueblo, and wasn’t picked until the 6th round by the Baltimore Ravens. In fact, he was even cut from the Ravens main team and given a shot with the practice squad, but with relentless hard work he worked his way back onto the active roster. Once given the opportunity to start Jensen began proving the doubters wrong and started all 16 games for Baltimore last season.
Many reporters are wondering if this changes the Tampa Bay front office’s gameplan for the upcoming NFL Draft. Offensive line is a position of need for the Bucs, to say the very least, but now that they’ve shored up the Center position there is speculation the Bucs may try and fortify another position where they need help, by drafting cornerback Joshua Jackson out of the University of Iowa. On the other hand, there are a number of intriguing offensive line prospects (such as Orlando Brown out of the University of Oklahoma) expected to be available when Tampa Bay picks at #7. Many NFL front office’s have long subscribed to the belief you can never have too many good players in the trenches, and Tampa Bay may choose that path.
One thing is for certain, Tampa Bay has added a Center in Ryan Jensen that is a proven workhorse. While the amount of money in the contract may be high, nobody can argue that it is unearned — Jensen has made the most of every opportunity in the NFL, and he’ll bring that attitude to Tampa Bay each and every day.