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Tampa Bay Buccaneers finalizing deal to keep OL Jeremy Zuttah

TAMPA — Bucs coach Greg Schiano has formed a solid opinion on at least one of his new players. Then again, Jeremy Zuttah isn't so new to Schiano.

Zuttah, 25, and the Bucs are putting the finishing touches on a contract extension that will keep the offensive lineman off the free agent market, the Tampa Bay Times has confirmed. Zuttah, capable of playing all line positions, was drafted in the 2008 third round after playing for Schiano at Rutgers. He was scheduled to become a free agent with his rookie contract expiring.

Zuttah's considered the Bucs' top priority among their impending unrestricted free agents. Kicker Connor Barth is a close second, with his fate expected to be decided prior to today's franchise-tag deadline. General manager Mark Dominik has said he will franchise tag Barth if a multiyear deal isn't reached by today, thereby keeping Barth off the market.

Zuttah has started 44 games and is almost as likely to play center as he is guard. He started 14 games in 2011, mostly at left guard. When injury-prone center Jeff Faine has gone down, Zuttah has performed well as the starter there.

Terms of the deal weren't available.

Coaching hire: The Bucs hired Ron Turner as quarterbacks coach, reported. He reportedly interviewed for the offensive coordinator job, which ultimately went to Mike Sullivan. Turner, brother of Chargers coach Norv Turner, coached the Bears' quarterbacks while also serving as offensive coordinator from 1993-96 (Schiano was on the staff for part of that time). Turner, 58, has been on the Colts' staff the past two seasons, including as quarterbacks coach in 2011 before being let go at the end of last season.

NFL: More bounties?

NEW YORK — The NFL's investigation that found the Saints paid bounties to players for knocking opponents out of games is far from over.

The NFL will be "addressing the issues raised as part of our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of the game," league spokesman Greg Aiello said Sunday.

Those issues could include previous seasons, too.

Several players around the league have said the Saints and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams weren't the only ones with such a system. Former Redskins safety Matt Bowen said Williams had a similar bounty scheme when he was in Washington.

Aiello would not comment on other reports. He added that the NFL will look at "any relevant info regarding rules being broken," saying that is "standard procedure."

Williams has been summoned to New York to meet today with league officials and possibly commissioner Roger Goodell, ESPN reported.

The Saints maintained a bounty pool of up to $50,000 the past three seasons, the NFL said. Payoffs came for inflicting game-ending injuries, among other events. All payouts for specific performances in a game, including interceptions or causing fumbles, are against NFL rules.

The league said 22 to 27 defensive players were involved in the program and it was administered by Williams, with the knowledge of coach Sean Payton.

Williams was hired in January by new St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher to lead the Rams defense.

Seahawks: Running back Marshawn Lynch signed a four-year, $31 million deal, with $18 million guaranteed, according to multiple reports.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers finalizing deal to keep OL Jeremy Zuttah 03/04/12 [Last modified: Monday, March 5, 2012 11:59am]
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