View photos of the newest Buccaneer, C Ryan Jensen. Photos by AP Images.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved quickly in free agency to add depth to their defensive line, signing Beau Allen and Mitch Unrein in the first few days after the market opened. On Monday, however, the team turned its attention to the other line, another obvious focal point, signing unrestricted free agent center Ryan Jensen to a four-year deal.
The 26-year-old Jensen became a free agent on Wednesday after completing a stellar 2017 season as the anchor of the Baltimore Ravens' offensive line. A powerful run-blocker, he started all 16 games at center for a Ravens team that ranked 11th in the NFL with 116.0 ground yards per game and third with 111 rushing first downs. The Ravens' front line also allowed just 27 sacks, tied for the seventh-fewest in the NFL.
The addition of Jensen (6-4, 310) adds even more size to a formidable front wall and gives Tampa Bay some flexibility in their lineup. Fourth-year blocker Ali Marpet has started two seasons at right guard and one at center, so the Buccaneers can confidently put him at either spot. Meanwhile, Jensen made nine starts at guard for Baltimore in the 2015-16 seasons and thus presumably offers some versatility as well. Two players who made starts at guard for the Buccaneers last year, Kevin Pamphile and Evan Smith, are currently unrestricted free agents.
Jensen arrived in Baltimore as a sixth-round pick in 2013, becoming the first player selected from Colorado State-Pueblo since 1984. He made the active roster as a rookie but did not play in a regular-season game, then split the 2014 campaign between the practice squad and active roster. In 2015, Jensen emerged as a primary reserve for a strong Ravens line, starting six games at left guard in place of an injured Kelechi Osemele. Jensen made three more starts at guard in 2016 before moving to center to take over for the departed Jeremy Zuttah last fall.
The Ravens overcame a list of injuries to the offensive line and the running back corps to produce an effective ground game last season, with Jensen drawing praise for his physical style of play. The Buccaneers are eager to resurrect their own power rushing attack after producing the third-fewest yards on the ground over the past two seasons.