T Torrin Tucker was in the Cowboys' starting lineup by his second season in Dallas
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have bolstered a critical position, offensive tackle, with the addition of former Dallas Cowboy Torrin Tucker.
The Bucs signed Tucker, a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet last Friday, giving Dallas a week to decide whether or not to match the offer and retain Tucker. The Cowboys used the whole week but eventually declined to match, clearing the path for Tucker to move to Tampa.
Compared to unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents switch teams relatively rarely, since the team that signs such a player is generally obligated to compensate the original team with draft picks. However, since Tucker entered the league as an undrafted free agent, the Buccaneers do not owe the Cowboys any compensation.
The addition of Tucker and the re-signing of Kenyatta Walker on March 24 gives the Buccaneers three tackles who were starters in 2005, all of whom have displayed positional versatility since coming to the NFL. Tucker started 10 games at left tackle for the Cowboys last year and another 13 at right tackle in 2004. Walker started at left tackle as a rookie in 2001 and has been the team's primary starter on the right side for the last four seasons. Anthony Davis started all 16 games at left tackle for the Buccaneers in 2005 and is considered a good fit on the right side as well.
Tampa Bay also spent a third-round pick on the position last year, drafting Chris Colmer out of North Carolina State with the 91st selection overall.
The 6-6, 315-pound Tucker played guard at Southern Mississippi and was one of the nation's top performers at his position as a senior in 2002. He signed with Dallas after the draft and spent the first month of his rookie season on the Cowboys' practice squad. Dallas elevated Tucker to the active roster on October 1 and he made his NFL debut against Washington on November 2, stepping in at right tackle against Washington after an injury to Flozell Adams. He played in six more games as a rookie, starting the Thanksgiving Day contest against Miami at right tackle.
Tucker's switch from guard to tackle took so well that he was the Cowboys' opening-day starter at right tackle in just his second season. He started all 13 games in which he played in 2004, helping the Cowboys rush for 111 yards per contest. Though Tucker opened the 2005 season as a reserve, he finished as the starting left tackle after another injury to Adams. Tucker opened 10 games in that spot as the Cowboys' running attack improved to 116.3 yards per game.
Tucker is the third free agent from another team that the Bucs have added since the beginning of the free agency period on March 11, two of whom add depth to the offensive line. The team also signed unrestricted free agent guard Toniu Fonoti on March 17 and unrestricted free agent linebacker Jamie Winborn on April 3.