With most of the high-priced free agency out of the way, there are still plenty of “value-based “moves that can be made for teams looking to help themselves at certain positions. The Bucs would be one of those teams, especially if they are looking for another veteran running back.
We already know that Tampa Bay intends to utilize fourth-year player Peyton Barber as their primary back headed into this fall. And, at this point, coming in as undrafted, Barber has earned that opportunity.
First, Barber, who was an exclusive rights free agent for the Bucs, agreed Wednesday to a one-year deal at a very team-friendly cost of only $2.125 million. And for that price tag, Tampa Bay has a back that carried the ball 234 times for 871 yards, and 5 TDs (all career highs) last season.
The Bucs also signed up former Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington, who played previously for head coach Bruce Arians for five seasons. Ellington was a much more productive receiver out of the backfield with 145 catches for 1,300 yards in his career. He will fill the role that veteran Jacquizz Rodgers has been in, as a veteran reserve the last three seasons in Tampa Bay.
With the Jets releasing veteran running back Isaiah Crowell on Thursday in a cost-cutting move after signing high-priced star Le’Veon Bell, there’s speculation Crowell may be headed to the Buccaneers.
We have released RB Isaiah Crowell.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) March 14, 2019
Crowell has played ran for 685 yards in New York last season (including a team record 219 yards against the Broncos) and played under former Jets coach Todd Bowles, who is now the Buccaneers defensive coordinator.
So it’s an easy connection to make that Crowell, could be playing in a place where at least the defensive coordinator is very familiar with what he’s done.
Tampa Bay hasn’t had very much money in free agency to go after the likes of former Saints running back Mark Ingram, who signed a lucrative $15 million three year deal with the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday. Also former Falcons running back Tevin Coleman inked a $10.3 million two-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers.
And of course, the Bucs have second round pick from a year ago, Ronald Jones, who basically was left on the bench by the previous Tampa Bay coaching staff led by Dirk Koetter and offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
If Arians and new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, along with running back coach Harold Goodwin, can jump-start Jones into the type of back that we saw making explosive plays at USC, then he may eventually become the star for Tampa Bay.
For now, it’s the proven Barber, the vet- Ellington, and perhaps another smaller priced free agent vet coming to battle with Jones.
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