Tucker gets three-year extension from Bills

As a starter in five of the Bills' final six games of 2003, guard Ross Tucker provided stability to an offensive line unit maligned for much of the season, and now the club has reciprocated by giving the three-year veteran some security as well.

Updated: February 14, 2004, 12:09 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

As a starter in five of the Bills' final six games of 2003, guard Ross Tucker provided stability to an offensive line unit maligned for much of the season, and now the club has reciprocated by giving the three-year veteran some security as well.

Tucker has signed a three-year contract extension, ESPN.com has learned, a move that will keep him off the restricted free agent market.

The deal includes a $225,000 signing bonus and, if Tucker is a starter, the contract can be worth as much as $3.2 million. Not bad for a former undrafted free agent, one who has been with three franchises in three seasons, but who now seems to have found a home.

Tucker, 24, was claimed by the Bills on waivers last June, after being released by Dallas, and he was a good fit for a team seeking line depth. He may dovetail even better, though, with new Buffalo assistant Jim McNally, one of the premier line coaches in the league, who has a history of transforming low-round draft choices and one-time free agents into Pro Bowl-caliber performers.

Whether it is as a starter or a top reserve, the Bills obviously have plans for Tucker in 2004 and beyond.

It appears Tucker will go to camp with a chance to win the starting spot at right guard, where he played very effectively in the second half of last season. In his first Bills start, in November, the offense totaled 403 yards. The Bills rushed for over 200 yards in his second start.

Tucker earned a spot on the Washington Redskins roster as a free agent in 2001 but was released that year. A bigger surprise came last spring when, despite starting seven games for the Cowboys in 2002, he was again released.

For his career, Tucker has appeared in 25 games and has started 12 of them.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.