It was only the second day of training camp, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have already hit a major bump in the road. Before the pads have even been put on, Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen has already gone down with an injury. And while there isn’t an official diagnosis on his condition, indications are that it could be season ending.
The loss of Jensen is a major blow. Not just because of how good he is as a player, but also because of his toughness and leadership on the field. In so many ways he is irreplaceable.
Regardless, the show must go on. And while no one can truly fill his shoes, the Buccaneers will now have to consider who Jensen’s replacement will be. There are a number of options who could be in play. Here are a few.
The Bucs spent a third round pick on Hainsey last year. The big man out of Notre Dame was drafted to be groomed as the center of the future. This could be his opportunity to prove himself.
Hainsey played sparingly last season. In fact, he was inactive on most game days. As a rookie he truly had a developmental red shirt year so to speak.
When asked about Hainsey on Tuesday, Bucs right tackle Tristan Wirfs was very complimentary. Wirfs raved about the football intelligence Hainsey has, as well as the work he’s been doing with former Buc AQ Shipley. This might just be lip service, but it was nice to hear some encouraging words from his fellow line mate.
This is the big free agent name on the market. Tretter was the starting center for the Cleveland Browns over the last few years and he did very well there. It’s a bit surprising to see him still as a free agent, but it might just be a matter of waiting for the right situation.
At 31 years old, Tretter should still have plenty left in the tank. He was part of an offensive line that helped block for the 4th most rushing yards in the NFL last season, so he would seemingly fit what the Bucs have prioritized in the offseason. This is a natural fit and probably the best option to actually replace Jensen this year.
Price was a first round pick back in 2018. Since then he has had an unspectacular career and is now looking to join his third team in five years. His transition to the NFL has not been smooth to say the least.
In 34 games as a starter, Price has played multiple positions across the offensive line. He was drafted as a center out of Ohio State and played there as a rookie. Perhaps a bit more stability, in both the position he plays and with what’s around him, is all that is needed to help reach some of his potential that got him drafted.
This might be the perfect compromise signing for the Bucs. Paradis spent the last three years with the Panthers and prior to that played with the Broncos where he won the Super Bowl as their starting center. His experience would be incredibly valuable.
That being said, Paradis will be 33 years old this season. He also tore his ACL in November, so he is coming off a major injury. It’s unclear how ready he is or how much he has left, but he might be a good alternative to the young in-house options the Bucs have.
Deal With The Devil?
Another option is trading for a veteran center. Nick Martin spent four years as the starting center for the Texans, from 2016-2019. During that time he was more good than bad, although he did struggle towards the end of his time in Houston.
After spending 2020 as a backup with the Raiders, Martin may be looking to prove himself and reclaim a starting job in this league. The problem is that he’s currently under contract with the New Orleans Saints.
Martin, brother of Cowboys guard Zach Martin, likely won’t see any playing time with the Saints. He is still just 29 years old and has shown that he can play in the NFL. Would the Saints overcharge the Buccaneers, if they were willing to make a deal at all? Of course they would. However, getting a guy like Martin might be worth it.
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