The Tampa Bay Buccaneers landed another big free agency fish on Wednesday.
The Bucs have signed Pro Bowl left guard Carl Nicks from the New Orleans Saints to a five-year contract, the team announced in a news release Wednesday morning. The Bucs did not release terms of the deal, but Nicks' agent said with incentives the contract is worth $47.5 million.
It marked the third major signing by the Bucs since free agency began at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
On Tuesday night, the Bucs signed wide receiver Vincent Jackson to a five-year, $55.55 million contract and earlier Wednesday Tampa Bay confirmed it had signed former Detroit Lions cornerback Eric Wright to a five-year deal worth up to a reported $37.5 million.
"It's a great day in Buccaneer history. It's been a very exciting 24 hours for our organization," general manager Mark Dominik said Wednesday at a news conference to introduce Nicks, Jackson and Wright. ""Every one of them had a choice to be somewhere else today, and they chose Tampa."
New head coach Greg Schiano said all three players match up with his football philosophy establishing the running game, throwing the ball deep downfield and playing tough defense.
"When I look at these three guys, they're a perfect fit for what we want to do," Schiano said. "I can't thank the Glazers enough for stepping to the plate and bringing these three guys home. In the end, that's what it's all about."
Nicks comes to Tampa Bay after spending his first four seasons in New Orleans, which drafted him in the fifth round (164th overall) of the 2008 NFL draft out of Nebraska. He has started in 61 consecutive regular-season games and six postseason games, dating back to his rookie season.
He said the new contract brings with it new responsibility to prove he deserves it.
"It's humbling and it makes you hungry," Nicks said. "It makes you want to work and I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Nicks earned All-Rookie honors and helped the Saints post the top-ranked offense in the league in terms of yards per game and scoring, while setting a club record with only 13 sacks surrendered all season.
But Nicks said Wednesday that he chose the Bucs' "pound the ball" running plans over the Saints' pass-first (and second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth, he joked) philosophy.
"I'm excited to be a part of a team that's young and we have great guys coming in, and we're going to get physical in the run game and that's what I'm all about," he said.
"I talked to Coach (Schiano) a little bit yesterday and he really got me fired up about his plan and his passion for the game."
In 2009, Nicks again helped lead his team to the top-ranked total offense title with the sixth-ranked rushing attack and the fourth-ranked passing attack, as the Saints only allowed 20 sacks on their way to a Super Bowl championship.
Nicks' signing comes on the heels of the recent re-signing of starting left guard Jeremy Zuttah, which means the Bucs may be ready to make the long-anticipated move of Zuttah to center.
There also were multiple reports the Bucs will have a new backup quarterback working behind starter Josh Freeman in 2012.
The Bucs, who are expected to lose Josh Johnson in free agency, reportedly agreed to terms on a one-year deal with former Colts quarterback Dan Orlovsky.
Neither the Bucs nor Orlovsky's agent, David Dunn, confirmed the report, which would put the former Connecticut standout with his fourth team in eight years.
Near the end of Wednesday's press conference, however, Dominik said the Bucs' free agency efforts were focused on Jackson, Nicks and Wright, and the organization would now shift most of its attention to the NFL Draft in April.