The restructuring of Bucs receiver Keyshawn Johnson's contract created an extra $2.5 million worth of salary cap room. The Bucs have already agreed to terms with free agent quarterback Jim Miller and are expected to continue negotiations with free agent linebacker Dwayne Rudd as well as re-signing Oben.
In addition to Oben's signing, the Bucs may also have room to sign a tight end, and the team has some interest in former St. Louis Ram Ernie Conwell. Tampa Bay could also opt to re-sign Rickey Dudley, who played for Tampa Bay last year.
Oben, who started all 16 games at left tackle, was close to signing with Baltimore last spring, but opted to sign a one-year contract with Tampa Bay worth $476,980. While he was expected to compete for the starting right tackle position in 2002, Oben performed so well at the left tackle spot in training camp that it prompted the Bucs coaching staff to move offensive tackle Kenyatta Walker to the right side.
Oben was Tampa Bay's most consistent offensive lineman last year and did not allow a sack in the playoffs during the Bucs' 2002 Super Bowl run. He earned exceptional regard for shutting out Philadelphia Eagles Pro Bowl defensive end Hugh Douglas in the NFC Championship Game.
In previous Bucs-Eagles playoff games, Douglas had victimized George Hegamin (2000) and Walker (2001) for a combined three sacks and one forced fumble.