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Penn Hopes Some Teammates Get Contract Extensions

As a restricted free agent last summer, Buccaneers Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn received a six-year, $41.7 million contract extension. This summer, Penn hopes that a few of his teammates on offensive line receive contract extensions, too, writes Anwar Richardson of The Tampa Tribune.

“Davin (Joseph), James (Lee) and (Jeremy) Truebloood, those are big holes to fill,” Penn said. “We’re so close. Me and Davin were talking about it. We’re going into our sixth year. We remember when we were rookies and guys said they were going into their sixth year and we were like, ‘You’re old.’ Now I look at it as we’re the old guys.

“We’ve been in the league together for six years, and (center Jeff) Faine has been with us for five, so we don’t want to break that up. Hopefully, we don’t have to. Hopefully we can end this together. It would really be great, a fairytale ending.”

Lee, who took over for Trueblood at starting right tackle, will likely be a restricted free agent and is expected to open camp opposite Penn. Joseph and Trueblood, however, will be unrestricted and at least one could move on. Of the two, Joseph, a 6-foot-3, 313-pound mauler of a guard with a Pro Bowl on his resume, is expected to be the higher priority for Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik.

As noted by Richardson, the Buccaneers ranked eighth in rushing last season as undrafted rookie LeGarrette Blount cracked the 1,000-yard barrier and Josh Freeman added 364 yards with his legs, the second-highest rushing total among NFL quarterbacks. However, the Buccaneers ranked just 25th in Football Outsiders’ “Adjusted Line Yards” and 26th in “Stuffed”, which is the percentage of runs “where the running back is tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage”.

This group has significant room for improvement, and some of the line’s struggles can be attributed to injury–both Faine and Joseph finished the season on injured reserve–and young players like Lee and left guard Ted Larsen, a 2010 sixth-round pick by the New England Patriots who the Buccaneers plucked off the waiver wire, getting their first tastes of NFL action during the season. The Buccaneers changed offensive line coaches this offseason, replacing Pete Mangurian with Pat Morris, and without a proper offseason, it is likely in the Buccaneers’ best interest to keep this unit as intact as possible.

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