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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs, as expected, release center Jeff Faine



The Bucs said hello to several new free agents Tuesday but it meant goodbye to center Jeff Faine.

Tampa Bay released the 30-year-old veteran just hours after signing Saints free agent guard Carl Nicks. The Bucs plan to move guard Jeremy Zuttah to center after signing him to a four-year, $16.3-million contract last week.

"I'd like to thank the Buccaneers for giving me the chance to play for my hometown team four years ago," said Faine, a native or Orlando. "The move is bittersweet, but I leave in great health, excited and energized for my next opportunity. Although our record wasn't what any of us wanted it to be, I'll look back at my time in Tampa with fond memories and thankful for the many friendships made, especially on the offensive line...I look forward to seeing Josh Freeman and some of the other young talent become bright stars in this league."

Faine was a four-year starter for the Bucs since joining the team as a free agent from - ironically enough -- the New Orleans Saints. He missed eight games in 2010 and four games in 2009 with a series of triceps, quadriceps and biceps injuries but started 15 games last season.

At the time the Bucs signed Faine as a free agent in 2008, he was the highest-paid center in the NFL with a 6-year contract worth $37.5-million. Faine had two years remaining on the deal that would have paid him $5.925-million in 2012. His salary cap number was $7.925-million for next season.

"I appreciate the leadership Jeff has provided to our franchise, both on and off the field,'' general manager Mark Dominik said. "He has been a true professional during his time here. We wish him all the best and are confident he will have continued success in the future."

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 8:58pm]


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