Bucs Agree To Terms With C Wade

March 10 - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers apparently landed Jeff Christy's successor Monday when the team agreed to terms with Jacksonville free-agent center John Wade. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Wade is the second offensive lineman the Bucs have signed via free agency this offseason. Last week, the Bucs signed right guard Jason Whittle to a five-year contract.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers filled its vacant starting center position Monday when the team agreed to terms with Jacksonville free-agent center John Wade.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Wade, 28, replaces former Bucs C Jeff Christy (6-foot-2, 285-pounds), who was released in a salary cap maneuver two weeks ago. The Bucs were also looking to add more size to the center position, which it apparently did by adding the 6-foot-5, 299-pound center.

"John gives us another offensive lineman with versatility," said Bucs general manager Rich McKay. "He is a physical presence in the middle of the line, which was an offseason focus of ours."

Added Bucs head coach Jon Gruden: "John is a young, mobile and very talented center, and we are very eager to put him into place with our offense,"

Wade, a 1998 fifth-round pick of Jacksonville, spent the last five seasons with the Jaguars, where he started 34 of the 54 games he appeared in.

The former Marshall standout started all 16 games at the center position last season, where the team's running attack ranked 10th in the league and the Jags' relatively young offensive line allowed 41 sacks.

"I am happy and feel fortunate to have an opportunity to come to this team and I realize there will be a lot of expectations with them winning the Super Bowl last year," said Wade. "I'm going to come in and learn the system. I am going to spend a lot of time with coach (Bill) Muir learning the calls and hopefully I can get the system down so it's second nature to me."

Wade is the second addition the Bucs have made to its offensive line this offseason. The Bucs signed Jason Whittle to a five-year deal last week, and he's expected to compete with Cosey Coleman for the starting right guard job in training camp.


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