Why Ryan Jensen's injury is bad news for Tom Brady, Buccaneers

Why Ryan Jensen's injury is bad news for Tom Brady, Buccaneers

Since arriving in Tampa Bay, Tom Brady has been well-protected behind one of the best offenses lines in the NFL.

Brady has been sacked only 43 times during his first two years with the Buccaneers, the fewest among any quarterback with at least 30 starts and the fifth-fewest of quarterbacks with at least 20 starts, according to Stathead.

But that offensive line has suffered some blows this offseason. Right guard Alex Cappa left in free agency to sign with the Bengals. Left guard Ali Marpet retired. And while the team traded for right guard Shaq Mason to bolster the right side of the line, it now has a new problem in the interior of the line.

Center Ryan Jensen suffered a knee injury during Thursday’s training camp practice, and coach Todd Bowles said the veteran will be undergoing tests to evaluate the status of his injury moving forward.

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What does Jensen’s injury mean for Brady and the Buccaneers? The Sporting News breaks it down.

Ryan Jensen injury update

While little is known exactly about the extent of Jensen’s knee injury on Thursday, the signs point to it being worse than just a minor training camp injury.

ESPN’s Jenna Laine reported Jensen had to be reluctantly taken off the field in a golf cart and that he was unable to walk off the field.

CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco reported the 31-year-old center spiked his helmet on the field in frustration.

Via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Bucs general manager Jason Licht said it may be a few days before an official diagnosis can be made due to swelling in the knee. 

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Thursday afternoon there was concern it was a serious injury sustained by Jensen.

Since Jensen became a starter on the offensive line for the Ravens in 2017, he has never missed a game.

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Buccaneers offensive line depth chart

As of now, the offensive line for the Buccaneers is likely to be Donovan Smith at left tackle, Aaron Stinnie at left guard, Jensen at center, Shaq Mason at right guard and Tristan Wirfs at right tackle.

While the right side of the line is bolstered with a pair of Pro Bowl linemen, the left side and interior of the line now present some questions. Stinnie started his first game in the NFL in 2021, and has never appeared in more than six games in a season in the four years in which he has been in the NFL.

Robert Hainsey is the likely backup to Jensen should he miss time, but the 2021 third-round draft pick appeared in only nine games in 2021, and did not start any contests.

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Tampa Bay selected tackle-turned-guard Luke Goedeke from Central Michigan in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft, and he could wind up seeing some extra time during the season if there is any shifting of the interior line.

Buccaneers offensive line contracts

There are few teams that have put as much money into their offensive line as the Buccaneers.

According to Spotrac, 21.57 percent of the team’s cap space is spent on offensive linemen, and their $44.4 million spent on the line is the eighth-most in the NFL.

The most expensive member of the line is Smith, who is set to make $18.4 million in 2022.

Jensen signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Buccaneers after becoming a free agent earlier this offseason. He said he received a phone call from Brady after the quarterback decided to un-retire, and called that the “sugar on top” for his decision to return to Tampa Bay.

Jensen will be a $4 million cap hit for the Buccaneers in 2022, and will make $15 million in 2023 and 2024.