The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have found some veteran help for their offensive line, and they didn't have to look far.
On Friday, the Buccaneers announced the signing of 10th-year veteran guard Keydrick Vincent, an unrestricted free agent who spent the last two seasons starting for Tampa Bay's NFC South rivals, the Carolina Panthers. To make room on the 80-man roster for Vincent, who agreed to a two-year deal, the Buccaneers released rookie guard Sergio Render.
Heading into training camp 2010, the Bucs possessed an offensive line group that, behind the starting five, was largely comprised of rookies and first and second-year players. The signing of Vincent changes that dynamic instantly and gives the team a sturdy blocker who helped produce outstanding results in Carolina.
The 6-5, 325-pound Vincent has played in 97 games over the past nine seasons, starting 79. He has opened games at both guard positions, though the bulk of his starts have come at right guard, the spot he filled for the Panthers the past two campaigns. Vincent has also started for the Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Vincent helped the Panthers build one of the league's top rushing attacks the past two seasons. Carolina ranked third in the league in rushing yards in both 2008 and 2009, producing 2,437 yards in '08 and 2,498 yards last fall, the top two single-season outputs in franchise history. Last year, Vincent helped DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart become just the fifth set of teammates in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards each in the same season. In 2008, the Panthers' offensive line also set a team record for fewest sacks allowed, with 20.
Vincent started 30 of a possible 32 games during that span, missing just the final two games of 2008 with a groin injury. He came to the Panthers as an unrestricted free agent in 2008 after spending one season with the Arizona Cardinals.
Though he served mostly as a reserve in Arizona, Vincent had started 21 games over the previous two seasons with Baltimore. In 2006, he started 12 games and helped the Ravens break the team record by allowing just 17 sacks all season.
The former Mississippi standout originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Steelers in 2001. After two seasons as primarily a reserve (two starts combined in 2001-02), Vincent took over at left guard for most of the 2003 campaign. He then started all 18 games including playoffs at right guard for the Steelers in 2004, helping Pittsburgh reach the AFC Championship Game. The Steelers ranked second in the NFL in rushing in '04 with 2,464 yards.
Vincent's signing is a homecoming of sorts. He was born in Bartow, Florida and he played his prep ball at Lake Gibson High School in Lakeland.
Render originally signed with the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia Tech on April 26 of this year.