Ravens acquire center Zuttah from Bucs

Ravens acquire center Zuttah from Bucs
March 23, 2014, 6:30 pm

Tampa Bay Buccaneers center Jeremy Zuttah (76) gets ready to hike the ball against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half at Raymond James Stadium.

(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

The Ravens have traded for their likely new starting center, acquiring Jeremy Zuttah in a deal with the Buccaneers, in exchange for a 2015 middle-round draft choice. The Ravens announced the trade Sunday afternoon, pending the outcome of a physical examination.

Zuttah has started 76 games during his six-year NFL career, including every game at center during the past two seasons in Tampa. He is expected to replace Gino Gradkowski as the starting Ravens’ starting center next season. The Ravens’ offensive line struggled all of last season, and Gradkowski was inconsistent in his first year as a starter, replacing the retired Matt Burk. By re-signing left tackle Eugene Monroe, and trading for Zuttah, the Ravens have moved decisively to strengthen themselves up front.

“We said at the beginning of the offseason that we would be adding quality players to our line and Jeremy fits that description,” Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said on the team’s website, baltimoreravens.com. “We are getting a player who has started at both center and guard, and played well at each position. We’re excited to have him as a Raven and believe he can play a significant role for us.”

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Zuttah sounded eager for a fresh start in Baltimore.

“The past six years in Tampa Bay have been great for me, but now I’m looking forward to joining the Ravens and helping them win another championship,” Zuttah told the team’s website. “That’s just a great atmosphere to be around with Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh, who have won a Super Bowl. It’s a stable environment. It will be great.”

The Ravens still have to identify their starting right tackle, but acquiring Zuttah gives them more flexibility and depth. Kelechi Osemele can play both left guard and right tackle. If Osemele is moved to right tackle, A. Q. Shipley may become the permanent starting left guard. Shipley started the final 10 games at left guard last season after Osemele left with a season-ending back injury.