Trade for Ravens: The Ravens desperately needed a new center as Gino Gradkowski struggled mightily in his first season as a starter in place of the retired Matt Birk. The 2012 4th round pick graded out as Pro Football Focus’ worst ranked center last season. Jeremy Zuttah is not a great center, grading out 22nd ranked center out of 35 eligible last season and 24th out of 36 eligible in 2012, but he’s a massive upgrade over Gradkowski.
The issue worth discussing here is not in the compensation sent to the Buccaneers as a 5th round pick is not much. The Ravens would have had trouble finding a center even this good in the 5th round. The issue worth discussing is how much the Ravens are paying him. They’re not just getting a starting center for a 5th round pick as they had to sign him to a 5-year, 18 million dollar deal. Zuttah originally had 8.75 million over 2 years left on his deal, but none of that was guaranteed.
The Ravens have cut his salary over the next 2 seasons to a total of 7.5 million, but guaranteed 6.5 million of that so he’s essentially getting a 2-year, 7.5 million dollar deal (or a 1-year, 6.5 million dollar deal) guaranteed. The Ravens will then have “options” for him at 3.5 million dollars apiece for the 2016, 2017, and 2018 seasons. It’s a small overpay for a mediocre center, but it is a reasonable deal for the Ravens in their current situation.
Trade for Buccaneers: Zuttah was overpaid at 4.5 million for 2014 and 4.25 million for 2015, so I understand why the Buccaneers would want to move on from him and from that angle, credit them for getting a 5th round pick, rather than cutting him outright, which is easier said than done. However, this move would have made more sense earlier in free agency when there were still options to replace Zuttah on the open market. Now the Buccaneers seem stuck with a combination of Jamon Meredith and Patrick Omameh and maybe a rookie at right guard now. It’s still a decent move though. There’s no real winner in this trade.