Former Packers center Dietrich-Smith agrees to deal with Tampa Bay
While the Packers brought back a big man in the middle of their defensive line Friday in B.J. Raji, they also lost their main man in the middle on offense as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced they agreed to a contract with center Evan Dietrich-Smith.
FOX Sports Insider Peter Schager reports the contract is for four years and $14.25 million. The last time a Packers center hit free agency, Scott Wells signed with the Rams for four years and $24 million before the 2012 season.
Dietrich-Smith was an undrafted free agent who made the Packer roster in 2009, was cut at the end of training camp in 2010 and picked up by Seattle, who released him after four games only to rejoin Green Bay in Week 17. He said he wouldn’t have mind returning to the Packers, but was going to let things play itself out in free agency.
"Yeah, I’d say so," Dietrich-Smith said when asked after the season if he thought he’d be an attractive player in free agency across the NFL.
"All I was focused on was playing and making sure that I was doing the job that I wanted to do out there, which was put the best film that I could put out there and just have success," he added.
Wells leaving eventually prompted Dietrich-Smith to move into the starting role when he took over for ineffective Jeff Saturday in 2012. Dietrich-Smith started every game at center in 2013 for the Packers after beating out Don Barclay for that role.
The rating system at ProFootballFocus graded Dietrich-Smith the NFL’s eighth-best center.
"I think he grew as the season went along," offensive line coach James Campen said. "He got better with communication. His command with tempo and getting people set and where they had to align, I thought he did a good job with that. I think still he’s a player that has room to grow."
Green Bay drafted JC Tretter last year to challenge for the starting center job, but he broke his ankle in Green Bay’s first organized team activity practice in May. With Dietrich-Smith gone, Tretter is the early odds-on favorite to start in 2014.