TAMPA - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and starting left guard Jeremy Zuttah have already agreed on what is sometimes the most difficult aspect of any free agency negotiation.
"The team wants the player and the player wants the team," Zuttah's agent, Noel LaMontagne, told The Tampa Tribune on Monday. "That's the most important progress you can have. The rest just comes down to dollars and cents."
Zuttah, a third-round pick out of Rutgers in 2008, will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time this spring, but LaMontagne says there's a good chance Zuttah won't reach the marketplace.
Though he and the Bucs have yet to discuss salary and bonus figures, LaMontagne said his conversations with Bucs general manager Mark Dominik have him feeling a deal will get done before the market opens March 13.
"It seems the conversation is pointed that way," LaMontagne said. "It is definitely in the direction where both sides want to get something done, so it's just a matter of getting pen to paper and figuring out what makes the most sense for Jeremy."
Staying in Tampa is apparently what makes the most sense to both sides. The Bucs have told LaMontagne they want Zuttah to be a part of their future under new coach Greg Schiano and Zuttah wants to be a part of that future, LaMontagne said.
Zuttah, who made $1.2 million in the final year of his rookie contract last season, is one of six Bucs starters from the 2011 season slated to become unrestricted free agents this spring. The others are cornerback Ronde Barber, place kicker Connor Barth, fullback Earnest Graham, safety Sean Jones and linebacker Geno Hayes.
Zuttah has started 44 of the 58 games he's played for the Bucs the last four years, including several starts at center, which could be where his future lies with the Bucs.
Zuttah also played for Schiano while in college and LaMontagne said Zuttah is excited to have Schiano on board as his coach.
"Both sides want the same end," LaMontagne said, "so we just need to get some good momentum rolling so Jeremy can still be around and stay in that Buccaneers uniform."
Tampa Bay Buccaneers