When Logan Mankins retired earlier this week, a starting position opened along the offensive line at left guard. A few days later, a new guard arrived in Tampa to help fill the void.
The Bucs signed J.R. Sweezy, a former Seattle Seahawk, to a five-year contract on Thursday afternoon, adding an experienced starter to their offensive line. Over the course of the past three seasons, Sweezy started all but two games. He played almost exclusively on the right side with Seattle, but said the Buccaneers wanted him to play on the left side this coming season.
Photos of the newest Buccaneer G JR Sweezy who was signed during the 2016 Free Agency period.
Sweezy was a defensive lineman in college and was shifted to the offensive side of the ball in the NFL. After making that transition, he believes the move from right to left guard will be smooth.
"As far as I know, I will be playing left guard which I'm OK with," Sweezy said. "In my younger days, I may have not been able to do it. Switching from D-line to O-line was enough. Being right-hand dominant, it was easier to start with the right, but now after playing it for four years and finally understanding and being comfortable with the position, I feel fully comfortable in being able to play left.
"I don't think it will be as hard as switching from D-line to O-line, but there will be some nuances and what-not. I've already been kind of working on it – mental reps and what not in my head. Again, I'm just excited to be here in this opportunity, to be a part of something special and to help this team win any way I can."
It appears that Sweezy will be a strong contender to replace Mankins, with Kevin Pamphile and Evan Smith also in the mix. In addition to moving to the other side of the offensive line, Sweezy will be learning a new offense and building relationships with new teammates. He knows it will be difficult to hit the ground running, but is prepared to make the necessary adjustments.
"I don't expect to show up and be spot on," Sweezy said. "That's what these OTAs are for, that's what these practices are for. It's a learning process – it kind of slows the game down. We're not going to be grinding on each other too hard. It's more of a learning process and, for me, it's going to be learning the offense and seeing where I fit in the system and, again, doing as much as I can to help this team win."