Ryan Jensen just became yet another example of a Ravens free agent offensive lineman cashing in on the open market.
Jensen has reportedly signed a four-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers worth $42 million with $22 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
The deal would make Jensen the highest-paid center in the league in average salary, just edging out Jacksonville Jaguars center Brandon Linder at $10.5 million per year.
It’s a deal the Ravens, who are tight against the salary cap and aggressively trying to upgrade their receiving corps, couldn’t possibly match. And it's not the first time it's happened.
Two years ago, the Oakland Raiders made Kelechi Osemele the league's highest-paid guard. Last offseason, the Detroit Lions made Rick Wagner the richest right tackle.
It’s quite an upgrade for Jensen, who made under $2 million last season and had a base salary of $600,000 in 2016, per Spotrac.
Jensen became a full-time starter for the first time in his five-year career last season and brawled in the middle of the Ravens* *offensive line for all 16 games. His play-to-the-whistle, aggressive style suited Baltimore’s demeanor well.
Jensen became a fan favorite after he slammed Miami Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso to the turf after he hit quarterback Joe Flacco late during a slide. Jensen helped give Baltimore an edge in the trenches.
That style of play also suited the Buccaneers. According to ESPN’s Jenna Laine, the Bucs love Jensen because he’s “full of spit and vinegar.”
Jensen was a sixth-round pick out of Colorado State-Pueblo in 2013. He was more of a developmental prospect early on and was even released, then signed back to the practice squad, during his second season. He thought his career might be over because of sleep apnea.
Jensen’s contract could help the Ravens when it comes to adding compensatory picks in next year’s draft. Contract sizes are part of the equation, along with playing time and postseason awards. Baltimore still has some unrestricted free agents on the market, including wide receivers Mike Wallace and Michael Campanaro.
For the time being, Baltimore could turn to Matt Skura, Alex Lewis or a draft pick as next year's center. Skura's natural position is center, though he filled in admirrably for Marshal Yanda at right guard for 12 games last year.