Ryan Jensen

Buccaneers C Ryan Jensen To Retire

After missing most of the past two seasons due to the knee injury he suffered during training camp in 2022, Ryan Jensen will opt to retire. The veteran center announced on social media Friday he will leave the game after 11 years.

Jensen, 32, has been with the Bucs since 2018. The former sixth-round Ravens pick served as an integral piece on the Bucs’ Tom Brady-era O-lines, helping the team win Super Bowl LV. But Jensen sustained a severe knee injury two summers ago, one that altered his career.

Shortly after Brady backtracked on retirement No. 1 in March 2022, the Bucs reached an agreement to bring back Jensen. The Pro Bowl center signed a three-year, $39MM deal to stay in Tampa. Months later, however, Jensen suffered the injury that took him out of the mix. The Colorado State alum sustained full tears of his MCL and PCL and a partial tear of his ACL, along with meniscus damage.

Jensen did not undergo surgery and worked his way back to play every snap in the Bucs’ wild-card game against the Cowboys, but he was not at full strength that night. And the return for the playoff matchup did not precede Jensen being back to regular duty this past season. The Bucs placed Jensen on IR before the season, and it came out at that point his career was likely over. He is making that official today.

The Ravens plugged Jensen into their starting lineup on a part-time basis in 2015, but he broke through during his 2017 contract year. Jensen started all 16 games for the Ravens that season, becoming the team’s regular center. That attracted the attention of the Bucs, who signed him (four years, $42MM) to be the pivot in their then-Dirk Koetter-run offense. Bruce Arians did not rock the boat at the position, and Jensen displayed durability before that seminal 2022 day, starting every game as a Buccaneer from 2018-21.

While the presences of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin may have done the most to entice Brady during free agency in 2020, Tampa Bay presented the all-time great QB with a promising O-line setup. Jensen joined guards Ali Marpet and Alex Cappa, along with tackle Donovan Smith at that point. The Bucs then used their first-round pick to nab Tristan Wirfs, who quickly emerged as a right tackle anchor en route to eventual All-Pro acclaim. Jensen started all five Bucs playoff games from 2020-21, helping the team to its second championship and commanding a strong market that produced the subsequent $13MM-per-year accord.

Jensen’s injury played a major role in the Bucs’ offense unraveling in 2022, and while he expressed optimism that he could return to 100% before the 2023 season, his latest training camp did not feature much participation. The Bucs restructured Jensen’s contract last year, and he will count $16.57MM against the Bucs’ 2024 cap. While Brady’s $35.1MM void years-driven number from this past season dwarfs that figure, it still represents a decent chunk of dead cap.

During his nine regular seasons as an active NFLer, Jensen started 90 games. He will close his career having pocketed more than $72MM.

Buccaneers To Place C Ryan Jensen On IR

AUGUST 27: Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Jensen’s career is likely over (via Michael Baca of NFL.com). Jensen, however, is unwilling to throw in the towel just yet.

Jensen says the decision to suit up for the Bucs’ lone playoff contest did not lead to a setback, and he also does not believe that surgery would be helpful (via ESPN’s Jenna Laine). Before making the decision to forego surgery last year, he consulted with five orthopedic surgeons, and he suggested that going under the knife would only exacerbate the problem.

“I’m gonna fight and do whatever I’ve gotta do to get this knee healthy,” Jensen said. “Right now it’s just time and doing what we need to do to get it feeling better.”

AUGUST 26: After being a question mark to suit up for Week 1, Ryan Jensen‘s 2023 prospects having taken another turn. The Buccaneers center will be placed on IR, general manager Jason Licht said on Saturday. Jensen will miss the season as a result.

Tampa Bay was without its starting pivot for the full regular season last year as Jensen dealt with a major knee injury. He elected not to have surgery, and rehabbed to the point that he was able to take part in the team’s wild-card loss. Another full offseason of recovery seemed to have Jensen on the right track, and he expressed optimism earlier this month that he was back at 100%.

However, the Buccaneers proceeded with caution with respect to using him in team (as opposed to individual drills) upon his activation. As he dealt with complications from the knee injury, it became clear he would be hard-pressed to receive enough reps in the remainder of training camp and the preseason to be ready in time for the start of the campaign. In spite of that, a return to the field at some point in 2023 had been expected.

Now, Jensen will be sidelined for a full campaign for the second straight year. The 32-year-old took out a $5MM insurance policy in the wake of his knee injury last year, and today’s news will lead to legitimate questions about his playing future in the NFL. A Pro Bowler in his last healthy season, Jensen was in line to once again serve as a vital part of the Buccaneers’ offensive line upon his return.

After establishing himself as one of the most effective centers in the league over his four rookie-contract years in Baltimore, Jensen signed a four-year, $42MM deal in Tampa Bay. As has been the case with many Buccaneers veterans in recent years, his subsequent extension was restructured for salary cap purposes. That leaves the team on the hook for a cap hit of $17.2MM next year and $11.8MM in 2024, which is a void year.

Tampa Bay will again rely on Robert Hainsey as Jensen’s fill-in at the C spot. The former earned a respectable PFF evaluation last season, but the Buccaneers will be without their ideal O-line quintet in 2023, a year in which they are already beginning life after longtime left tackle Donovan Smith. While the team’s offense will be shorthanded without Jensen, attention will turn to his willingness and ability to rehab once more after what will be a second year out of football.

Buccaneers C Ryan Jensen Not Likely To Be Ready For Regular Season?

Earlier this month, Ryan Jensen indicated he has healed in full after missing the entire 2022 regular season with a trio of ligament tears in his knee. The Buccaneers center has resumed individual work since then, but he has yet to take part in team drills.

Jensen – who declined to undergo surgery and returned in time for the postseason – has kept a part-time schedule so far as he slowly makes his way back to a full workload. Since he has been absent from regular practices, however, head coach Todd Bowles acknowledged that the Pro Bowler is not in consideration for Week 1 usage at this point.

“When we go into the season, I don’t think we’re going to have anybody if they haven’t practiced,” Bowles said (via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, on Twitter). “You always prepare if somebody gets hurt or somebody’s gonna stay hurt, so we prepare that way every day so that hasn’t changed.”

When at full health, Jensen will be a critical member of the Buccaneers’ O-line, a unit which has seen a number of changes this offseason. The 32-year-old has been a dependable full-time starter since his arrival in free agency in 2018. A lengthy ramp-up period could be needed for Jensen to receive enough practice reps to be green-lit for a return to game action. With two years remaining on his contract at cap hits of $5.9MM and $17.3MM, a cautious approach from the team would come as no surprise.

With Jensen not in the picture (for the time being), Stroud notes that the Week 1 starting center competition will come down to Robert Hainsey and Nick Leverett (Twitter link). The former started all 17 regular season games at center in Jensen’s absence last season, while the latter logged 10 starts at left guard. Bowles said a final decision on the matter will likely not be made until after the preseason has ended. By that point, it will be interesting to see how much progress Jensen will have made in his ongoing recovery process.

Latest On Bucs C Ryan Jensen

The top two quarterbacks on the Buccaneers’ depth chart, Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask, are currently splitting first-team reps in training camp. Without Tom Brady in the picture, expectations are very different in Tampa this season, though whichever QB wins the starting job will at least have a Pro Bowl center snapping them the ball.

Ryan Jensen, who earned Pro Bowl acclaim in 2021, suffered a major knee injury in last year’s training camp, and it was later revealed that he sustained full tears of his MCL and PCL and a partial tear of his ACL, along with meniscus damage. Although he considered retirement — he had taken out a $5MM insurance policy in the event of a career-ending injury — a stem cell treatement in Antigua allowed him to continue his playing career.

He was also able to avoid surgery, and despite missing all of the regular season in 2022, he returned to play every snap of the Bucs’ playoff loss to the Cowboys in January. However, as detailed by ESPN’s Jenna Laine, Jensen was not at full strength in that game; after all, his original projected return date was September 2023. Luckily, he did not sustain any further knee damage, and he indicated that he is now fully healthy.

“I’m feeling good. Ligaments are healthy and healed and I’m just ready to keep rolling,” Jensen said. “It’s somewhat no different than when you get a surgery done on it. All those ligaments scar in and thicken up and get strength again. … The biggest thing for me is just going to work — going to work every day and attacking something that you’re passionate about.”

Jensen, 32, is an active participant in practice, though he does not take part in every practice period and receives full days off as he and the club endeavor to maintain strength and stability in his knee. If the Bucs are to remain competitive in 2023, which many are viewing as a transition year and not a year in which the playoffs are a realistic goal, they will need to keep Jensen healthy.

Tristan Wirfs is shifting from right tackle to left tackle, free agent acquisition Matt Feiler is penciled in at left guard, rookie Cody Mauch is set to start at right guard, and 2022 second-rounder Luke Goedeke is at the top of the RT depth chart despite playing only 55 snaps there last season. As such, Jensen will be anchoring the O-line in more ways than one, and Tampa Bay hopes that his return will bolster a running game that was the worst in the league in 2022 while keeping Mayfield and/or Trask upright long enough to take advantage of the team’s still-considerable receiving talent.

Jensen is under contract through 2024 thanks to the three-year deal he signed last March, when the Bucs were gearing up for another championship push with Brady at the helm.

Restructure Details: Bolts, Bucs, Bills, Jets

Teams continue to be aggressive in creating cap space ahead of Wednesday’s start to the 2023 league year, when franchises must be in compliance with the new $224.8MM salary cap. Here are the latest moves teams made to get there:

  • Reasonable Chargers activity in free agency should be expected. The team that began the week well over the cap has now created more than $40MM in space over the past couple of days. Following the moves to restructure Keenan Allen and Mike Williams‘ contracts, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets the team created $25.99MM by tweaking Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack‘s deals. Mack’s 2023 cap number drops by $10.8MM, while OverTheCap’s Jason Fitzgerald adds Bosa’s drops by $15.2MM. Bosa’s 2024 number ballooned to $36.6MM because of the move. That will, then, necessitate more maneuvering down the line. The Bosa, Mack, Allen and Williams moves have created a total of $40.37MM in space, Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com tweets. They are now more than $19MM under the cap.
  • In completing four restructures, the Buccaneers have now created more than $44MM in cap space. They redid the deals of Vita Vea, Chris Godwin, Ryan Jensen and Carlton Davis, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The Bucs have moved to being barely $5MM over the cap, after beginning March at nearly $60MM north of the salary ceiling. Cuts of Leonard Fournette, Cameron Brate and Donovan Smith have helped the team along the way as well. That said, Fournette and Brate cannot be released until after the start of the league year, Greg Auman of Fox Sports notes (on Twitter). The Bucs being unable to realize those savings until after 3pm Wednesday will force them to find a few other ways to create that space.
  • The Jets adjusted the deals of Laken Tomlinson, D.J. Reed and Tyler Conklin — all free agency additions from 2022 — to create $15.2MM in cap space, Yates tweets. Still working to land Aaron Rodgers, the Jets are now $11.5MM under the cap.
  • The Raiders are among the leaders in cap space, but Yates tweets they adjusted Maxx Crosby‘s deal to create $7.5MM in additional funds. Las Vegas holds more than $43MM in cap space, sitting third overall ahead of free agency.
  • Bills defensive tackle Tim Settle agreed to a $600K pay cut for 2023, Yates adds (on Twitter). The 2022 free agency addition still has $2.1MM in guaranteed money for 2023, with the Buffalo News’ Ryan O’Halloran adding Settle can earn up to $4.41MM this year via incentives. The Bills are moving closer to the deadline with a lot of work left ahead; they are more than $19MM over the cap.
  • The Vikings and swing backup O-lineman Chris Reed agreed to a renegotiated deal that trims his cap number by around $1MM, per Yates. Minnesota still has work to do ahead of the cap-compliance deadline, sitting more than $7MM over the cap.

NFC South Notes: Bucs, QBs, Maye, Panthers

Tom Brady‘s retirement shoved the Buccaneersvoid-years bill to 2023, and the $35.1MM cap hit will complicate the team’s plans to replace the all-time great. Tampa Bay is more than $55MM over the cap, as of Wednesday, and has upper-crust cornerback Jamel Dean on track for free agency. While the rest of the NFC South is being connected to quarterbacks, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets the Bucs should not be considered players for top-tier QB free agents. This would include Jimmy Garoppolo and almost definitely Derek Carr, and while Stroud adds the team will look at the market, the Bucs’ price range could be considered in the midlevel area.

Former second-rounder Kyle Trask, whom Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes Bucs players are high on as a player who can compete for the starting job (after two years in development), is the only quarterback left on the roster. The team holds the No. 19 overall pick. Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • The Saints have been the team most closely connected to Carr. They will need to complete their usual batch of winter restructures to be in position to pay him, though there are not as many avenues available to the crafty organization compared to recent years. But the Saints started their path to cap compliance Wednesday. They restructured Marcus Maye‘s deal, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. By moving $6.07MM of Maye’s salary into a signing bonus, the team created $4.85MM in cap space. Baby steps. The Saints are still more than $50MM over the cap.
  • Another Matt Rhule-era hire is no longer with the Panthers. The team parted ways with VP of player personnel Pat Stewart, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. Stewart, who worked with Rhule at both Western Carolina and Temple, joined the Panthers in 2020.
  • New Panthers HC Frank Reich will bring in ex-Rams assistant Jonathan Cooley, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic tweets. Cooley is set to join the Panthers as their defensive backs coach. He and new Carolina DC Ejiro Evero worked together in Los Angeles, with the Rams promoting Cooley after Evero left for Denver last year. The Rams, despite blocking Cooley from interviewing with the Vikings in 2022, fired him just after this past season ended.
  • Another Rams staffer fired along with Cooley in January will catch on in the NFC South. The Saints are hiring Kevin Carberry to be their assistant offensive line coach, Yates adds (on Twitter). Carberry served as the Rams’ offensive line coach during their Super Bowl LVI-winning 2021 season and last year. He will replace Zach Strief, who is now the Broncos’ O-line coach.
  • When Ryan Jensen went down during a July practice, he tore his MCL and PCL fully but only partially tore his ACL. This allowed for the veteran Buccaneers center to avoid surgery, Dan Pompei of Athletic notes (subscription required). Jensen also suffered meniscus damage, per Pompei, who adds retirement was a consideration for the injured blocker. Jensen took out a $5MM insurance policy in the event of a career-ending injury. A stem cell treatment in Antigua, however, made a difference in Jensen’s recovery. The 31-year-old blocker managed to make it back to practice late in the season and played in Tampa Bay’s wild-card loss to Dallas. Two years remain on Jensen’s three-year, $39MM contract.
  • Eddy Pineiro came to Charlotte as a Zane Gonzalez replacement, but the ex-Bears kicker fared well. Pineiro made 33 of 35 field goals, including a 15-for-16 mark from beyond 40 yards, and Person views him as the most likely Panthers kicker in 2023. Gonzalez suffered a preseason quad injury, leading to a full-season IR stay. The Rhule signee is under contract through 2023, while Pineiro is a free agent. But the latter has ties to special teams coordinator Chris Tabor, whom Person adds Reich is retaining. Tabor coached Pineiro in Chicago as well.

Buccaneers Activate C Ryan Jensen From IR

Just in time for tonight’s postseason game, the Buccaneers are receiving a significant boost to their offensive line. The team announced that center Ryan Jensen has been activated from IR, putting him in line to make his season debut against the Cowboys. In a corresponding move, special teamer J.J. Russell has been waived.

Jensen suffered a major knee injury in late July, and his availability for the season was immediately called into question. It was long presumed that he would be sidelined for the entire campaign, something which substantially compounded the Buccaneers’ issues along the interior of their o-line. The retirement of Ali Marpet and free agent departure of Alex Cappa left the team without any of their 2021 starters at guard or center throughout the 2022 campaign.

To little surprise, then, Tampa Bay struggled mightily on the ground this season. The Buccaneers finished dead last in rushing yards per game, averaging only 77 yards in that department. The absence of a balanced attack weighed down the team’s offensive consistency despite their success through the air (270 passing yards per game, second-most in the league). Jensen’s return, assuming he is able to play close to his Pro Bowl level, could go a long way towards solving that issue.

The 31-year-old has been a mainstay in the middle of Tampa’s offensive front since signing with the team as a free agent in 2018. He had yet to miss a game during his time with the Bucs prior to this summer’s injury, making him a dependable member of the team’s decorated offense. It remained uncertain for much of the campaign when (if at all) Jensen would be able to return this year, but a comeback was confirmed to be a distinct possibility last month when he returned to practice.

Uncertainty still remains at the left guard spot for Tampa Bay heading into the final contest of the wild-card round, but with Jensen expected to start, their offense will be better-positioned to pull off an upset over Dallas. This move leaves the Buccaneers with three IR activations remaining for the postseason.

Bucs C Ryan Jensen To Practice This Week

Given murky timetables since his unspecified training camp knee injury, Ryan Jensen is expected to resurface at Buccaneers practice this week. The team will designate the the veteran center for return, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The Bucs have since announced the return designation.

Jensen went down during a July 28 practice and was feared to be out for the season. That may still end up being the case, but the Bucs will see how the recently re-signed snapper looks in practice. It would certainly boost Tampa Bay’s scuffling offense to have its top interior O-lineman back, as not much has gone right for the team on that side of the ball this year.

While Jensen suffered the knee injury exactly five months ago, Stroud adds he did not undergo surgery. The ninth-year center’s timetable has been up for debate since. The Bucs carried Jensen through to their active roster after cutdown day and placed him on IR soon after. That would allow for a Jensen return from IR; he has been eligible to be activated since October. No activation will take place this week, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com tweets. Considering how long Jensen has been out, a ramp-up period — even if the Bucs are not yet a lock to make the playoffs — is logical.

Jensen, 31, was snapping the ball to Tom Brady before the Bucs’ Week 15 game against the Bengals, Stroud adds. Shortly after Brady’s decision to end his brief retirement, the Bucs began reassembling their team by signing Jensen to a three-year, $39MM deal. The other two starters on Tampa Bay’s interior O-line — Ali Marpet and Alex Cappa — were not part of the equation, with Marpet retiring and Cappa signing with Cincinnati. The team has experienced steady losses up front as well, leading to a wildly disappointing season on offense.

The Bucs lost first-string guard option Aaron Stinnie for the season in August and just placed swing tackle Josh Wells on IR. The Jensen injury moved guard Robert Hainsey to center, and second-round pick Luke Goedeke moved into the starting lineup. But the Bucs benched the rookie for veteran Nick Leverett. Tampa Bay is also uncertain either of its tackles — Donovan Smith and Tristan Wirfswill be in uniform for Sunday’s pivotal Panthers matchup.

Removing the Jensen-Marpet-Cappa trio from the mix has undoubtedly affected Brady’s performance, and it has made a major impact on Tampa Bay’s run game. The Bucs rank last in rushing in terms of total yards and yards per carry (3.4). The Bucs rank 28th in scoring, and Brady’s numbers have nosedived since he led the league in touchdown passes and passing yards in 2021. This has opened the door to the Bucs sitting at 7-8, still needing to do more to claim victory in perhaps the worst division in NFL history. The Bucs can clinch the NFC South title with a win in Week 17, but the team would not exactly generate much confidence going into the playoffs.

Jensen, who made his first Pro Bowl last season, would help supply some. Coming into this season, the former Ravens draftee had not missed a game since 2016. The former Division II product would have three weeks from Wednesday to be activated, giving the Bucs some time to gauge his readiness.

Latest On Ryan Jensen, Buccaneers’ Deadline Plans

A recent report indicated that Buccaneers offensive lineman Ryan Jensen could make his return as soon as next week. However, Greg Auman of The Athletic is throwing some cold water on that idea, writing that Jensen “has only a small chance of returning from his knee injury.”

[RELATED: Ryan Jensen November Return In Play?]

The veteran center suffered a knee injury during training camp that was initially feared to be season-ending. Subsequent reports provided a bit more optimism about his prospects of returning during the 2022 regular season or playoffs, and his IR placement reflected that sentiment. A few weeks ago, there were whispers that the Buccaneers were hoping Jensen would be back on the field at some point in November, with the team specifically targeting a November 6th return. The team’s Week 11 bye could also be a target return date, but now it’s sounding like we shouldn’t count on an imminent return.

Jensen, who has started all 65 of his appearances since joining Tampa Bay in 2018, would naturally provide a boost to Tampa Bay’s offensive line, although the unit has generally ranked among the top-1o through the first chunk of the season. Pro Football Focus has generally ranked Jensen among the best centers in the NFL, and the veteran earned his first career Pro Bowl nod in 2021.

Auman discussed Jensen’s potential return in the context of Tampa Bay making a trade to upgrade their offensive line. Second-round guard Luke Goedeke has struggled so far in 2022, and backup Nick Leverett doesn’t have much of a track record. Both Jensen and his current fill-in, Robert Hainsey, are under contract for next season. While the team could look for a temporary upgrade for Goedeke, Auman opines that the organization would be better off pursuing a rental before having Goedeke and Hainsey compete for one of the guard spots opposite Shaq Mason in 2023.

Who could fit that bill? For starters, Auman suggests the team could look to deal from a position of strength and pursue another team’s depth piece. The writer also points to someone like Commanders guard Andrew Norwell, who doesn’t have any guaranteed money owed beyond this season. Panthers guard Austin Corbett is also an affordable option, although he’s under contract for the 2023 campaign.

Ryan Jensen November Return In Play?

The knee injury Ryan Jensen suffered during training camp was initially rumored to be season-ending, but a subsequent report indicated the Buccaneers were holding out hope their center could return in the playoffs. Their IR management reflected that.

But Jensen now appears to have a chance to come back much earlier. The Bucs have a November Jensen return on their radar, Jason Cole of Outkick.com notes. A Jensen return as early as Nov. 6 is in play, according to Cole, but it might take a bit longer for conditioning purposes. The Bucs’ Week 11 bye could conceivably become a key date on Jensen’s timeline, but the team hopes he can return for its Nov. 6 Rams matchup.

A regular-season Jensen return would be important for a Bucs team that is one of a few NFC contenders to have displayed inconsistency to start this season. Although Pro Football Focus still rates Tampa Bay’s offensive line seventh after six weeks, Jensen would certainly be a welcome addition. The 31-year-old center has started for the past four Bucs editions. Coming into this season, the former Ravens draftee had never missed a game since signing with the Bucs in 2018.

The Bucs gave Jensen a three-year, $39MM deal to re-sign this year, doing so shortly after Tom Brady recommitted to the team following his brief retirement. Brady’s midgame address to his line in Pittsburgh drew attention, and this season has been an adjustment for the all-time great. The Bucs have been without Jensen and guard Aaron Stinnie, who is out for the year, and their offseason included Ali Marpet‘s retirement and Alex Cappa‘s free agency signing with the Bengals.

Tampa Bay did trade for Shaq Mason, however, and PFF rates Jensen fill-in Robert Hainsey as its sixth-best center thus far. That pedigree did not show up much in Pittsburgh, partially leading to Brady’s sideline speech. But the continuity Brady enjoyed during his first two Tampa seasons ended this offseason. The Bucs rank 20th in scoring and 21st in total offense. Their rushing attack sits last; Tampa Bay has topped 80 rushing yards in a game just once this season (Week 1).