Niners Trade for Ravens' Starting Center

GM John Lynch acquires Jeremy Zuttah, who can play both guard and center, to strengthen offensive line for 2017

In Baltimore this past season, center Jeremy Zuttah was elected an alternate to the Pro Bowl.

But the 30-year-old veteran from Rutgers is due to make more than $3.5 million in 2017, so the Ravens were expected to release him to save money. Instead, they’ve traded him to the 49ers in a deal in which the teams also exchanged sixth-round picks in the upcoming draft.

The deal by new 49ers general manager John Lynch adds some depth to the middle of the 49ers’ offensive line and competition for holdover starting center Daniel Kilgore. Both Zuttah and Kilgore have played guard, so whichever player loses the competition at center could help at the other position. Kilgore is the more cost-effective player, however. He is due $1.7 million in 2017.

In 2016, Zuttah was ranked by the analytic website Pro Football Focus as the 14th-best center in the NFL.

Lynch said after announcing the deal that he and head coach Kyle Shanahan believe Zuttah will make the offensive line better because “competition brings out the best in everyone.”

“We also believe that you can never have enough good offensive linemen, and Jeremy has certainly proven to be a very talented player having earned a Pro Bowl selection last season.”

Zuttah, who is 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, played his first six NFL seasons with Tampa Bay, starting at both guard and center. Though he received Pro Bowl honors for his work in 2016, Matthew Cohen, who writes about the Ravens for SB Nation, wrote that Zuttah’s play was “at best, mediocre.”

Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun also noted that the Ravens decided to part with Zuttah as much for his play as his salary. Wrote Zrebiec: “Zuttah struggled the past two seasons with both injuries and inconsistency, and the Ravens want to get more athletic and physical up front.”

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