Bucs Ink OT Roman Oben To One-Year Contract

May 20 - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers added depth and competition to their offensive line on Monday by signing free agent tackle Roman Oben to a one-year contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Oben is a swing tackle and is expected to push both LT Kenyatta Walker and RT Jerry Wunsch for playing time.

Roman Oben. Doesn't he sound familiar? He should. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers pursued the veteran offensive tackle in the spring of 2000 when his contract with the New York Giants expired, but after a visit to One Buccaneer Place and some contract negotiating, Oben opted to sign a three-year, $10.8 million contract with the Cleveland Browns. But after two seasons with the Browns, Cleveland was forced to release Oben in late-February in a salary cap maneuver.

Cleveland's loss turned into Tampa Bay's gain on Monday when the Pewter Pirates signed Oben to a one-year contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Oben, 29, can play at both left and right tackle and is expected to push second-year LT Kenyatta Walker and RT Jerry Wunsch for playing time and possibly a starting job. The addition of Oben also gives Tampa Bay some much-needed depth at the offensive tackle position. Oben's signing likely ends Bucs' free agent tackle Pete Pierson's career in Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay had been competing with a few teams for Oben's services. Cleveland was interested in re-signing Oben and the Baltimore Ravens showed some serious interest in him, too. But Tampa Bay recently stepped up their pursuit of Oben and brought him in for a workout at One Buc Place on May 8. Eighteen days later, Oben is a Buc.

The 6-foot-4, 305-pound veteran entered the NFL out of the University of Louisville as a third-round draft selection of the New York Giants (1996-99). He spent the past two seasons with the Cleveland Browns (2000-01).

Oben has started 77 of the 82 games he's played in during his six-year career. All 77 starts have come at the left tackle position. Oben had started 76 consecutive games from 1997-2001 before that streak was broken in December of 2001 against the Green Bay Packers. Oben started 13 of Cleveland's 16 games last season.

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