Len Pasquarelli

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Tuesday, March 5
Jenkins should give Bucs strong guard tandem

By Len Pasquarelli

Wasting little time in locating a replacement for the retired Randle McDaniel, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday evening signed unrestricted free agent left guard Kerry Jenkins to a contract.

Kerry Jenkins

The five-year contract is worth $10 million and includes a $2.6 million signing bonus.

Jenkins, 28, will move from the New York Jets into the left guard vacancy created by the retirement last week of future Hall of Fame member McDaniel. His addition provides the Bucs two emerging standouts at guard. He will team with two-year veteran Cosey Coleman, who moved into the lineup in 2001. The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Jenkins is a good complement to the quicker Coleman.

Jenkins should also be a steadying presence for left tackle Kenyatta Walker, the team's first-round draft choice in 2001 who started as a rookie, but suffered through an inconsistent season.

One of the top guards in the free agent talent pool, and a physical inline blocker whose play has improved every season, Jenkins has a streak of 48 consecutive starts. He is a durable veteran who made himself into a top-shelf player through hard work.

The former Troy State standout entered the league as an undrafted free agent with Chicago in 1997, but the Jets signed him off the Bears' practice squad in December of that year and he started the final two games of the season. He appeared in all 16 games as a reserve in '98, then moved into the lineup full-time in '99.

Jenkins also brings the Bucs some versatility, because he can move outside and play tackle in an emergency situation.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

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