Jeff Faine caused some controversy with his remarks these past week, when he claimed that the offseason were of no use to him and he wouldn't be showing up. This controversy was a little silly, if only because as an 8-year veteran Jeff Faine doesn't really need to work on blocking air and snapping the ball. Faine showing up for offseason workouts is only useful for team chemistry. At best he could help some young O-linemen with their technique and blocking calls, but I doubt that would make much of a difference. Then again, Jeff Faine relented and joined the other Buccaneers anyway.
In any case, this small controversy certainly reminded us that Jeff Faine's place on the team isn't entirely secure. There were some rumblings about his place on the team earlier this offseason, and there are some reasons to believe he could be at risk of losing his job. Faine has been a good center these past seasons, but hardly a standout, and he's missed 12 games with injury these past two seasons. Jeremy Zuttah has filled in decently, and would come at a much lower price point. Faine is scheduled to earn around $4.5 Million this season, while Zuttah will earn just over 10% of that.
There seem to be some superficial reasons to get rid of Jeff Faine. But if we dig a little deeper, it seems very unlikely that he'll be cut. Jeremy Zuttah was an adequate center last season but was inconsistent snapping the ball, and if Zuttah were to go down the Bucs have no depth behind him at center. And we can all remember what a poor center can do to an offensive line: when the Bucs had Jonathan Compas starting a couple of games in 2009, the Bucs offensive line couldn't stop any defensive tackle from getting into the backfield.
There's another reason why Faine will be on the roster regardless of his salary: if the season starts, it is very likely a salary floor will be in place. And with a salary floor comes a need to spend for the Buccaneers, as they are currently far below any prospective salary floor. This means they're more likely to keep a highly-paid veteran to help them reach the salary floor.
Finally, the Buccaneers could use every bit of veteran leadership next season, as the offseason continues to get shorter. The roster is made up almost entirely of players with fewer than 3 years experience in the NFL, and veteran savvy can go a long way for a team like that.