Free-agent offensive guard J.R. Sweezy reached an agreement Wednesday with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, per NFL Media's Ian Rapoport and the Tampa Bay Times' Rick Stroud. The Buccaneers announced the deal on Thursday.
The contract is for five years and $32.5 million, per Rapoport.
Sweezy, a seventh-round pick in 2012, made steady progress across four years with the Seattle Seahawks. He served as line depth during his first season before starting 46 of a possible 48 games over the remaining three years of his rookie contract.
The 26-year-old North Carolina State product is a hard-nosed guard with a definite mean streak. He's not the most steady or consistent option, especially when it comes to pass protection, but there are stretches where he can be a punishing run-blocker.
Brock Huard of ESPN came away particularly impressed with the lineman's performance against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14 last season:
Brock Huard @BrockESPN
JR Sweezy was an absolute monster today #Movingpeople #PancakeAttack Don't know if I've seen him better12/14/2015, 3:32:43 AM
While most offensive lineman operate with a high level of anonymity, some fans may recognize Sweezy from somewhere besides the Seattle line. He's become a popular target of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon during the "Superlatives" segment, which hands out fake awards to NFL players.
Here's one example and Fallon even alludes to the guard's frequent appearances, jokingly stating: "Oh, my man, J.R. Sweezy:"
Sheil Kapadia of ESPN passed along comments from Sweezy back in September about the mainstream attention.
"He gets me every time, man," he said. "Every time. He usually goes with a zombie reference, that I look like a zombie. This was a new one. ... I think it's funny. It's all in good fun."
Jokes aside, the onus is now on Sweezy to live up to his new contract. The most important thing is becoming more reliable as a pass-blocker, and that starts with continuing to improve his footwork, which gets sloppy at times.
Pro Football Focus broke down his 2015 season:
Pro Football Focus @PFF
J.R. Sweezy finished 2015 as PFF's 66th-ranked guard; serious downgrade from Mankins at 13. https://t.co/TlxOs6RtMv https://t.co/Va9cmsvhgg3/9/2016, 11:16:10 PM
Ultimately, Sweezy decided leaving the Seahawks represented the best move. It does increase the amount of pressure for 2016 because he'll be expected to make an immediate impact while learning a new offense. The comfort zone he built in Seattle is gone.
It's a solid addition for the Buccaneers and should, at the very least, provide added support to the team's rushing attack.
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