If there’s any concern with the 2020 Buccaneers offense, it is the running back position. The 2019 team ranked 24th in the league in rushing. Entering his third season, Ronald Jones II rushed for 724 yards and six touchdowns. He also wasn’t much of a passing threat from the backfield either catching 31 of 40 passes thrown his way for a measly 309 yards and no scores. The departed Peyton Barber rushed for 470 yards and six touchdowns. The lack of a balanced attack and suspect defense played a significant part in the team’s early struggles. Dare Ogunbowale’s 303-all purpose yards and the lack of change-up in third-rounder Ke’Shawn Vaughn offers little hope of any change in running for the upcoming season.
A polished veteran insurance policy might just be the thing the Bucs need in 2020. Let’s face facts, they don’t have the luxury of expecting a 43-year old Tom Brady to handle the same pressure as he did 5-10 years ago, especially in a new system and team. Here are some viable low-risk high reward free agent options for running back.
The last two seasons for Devonta Freeman haven’t been kind to him. Through 16 games, he managed a combined 724 rushing yards, 433 receiving yards and six touchdowns. In the three previous seasons, the former Atlanta Falcons running back rushed for a combined 3,000 rushing yards, 4,357 receiving yards and 33 touchdowns. These numbers are far better than the last former Falcons back the Buccaneers brought in Jacquizz Rodgers. Is he a shell of his former self? Given his production the last couple of seasons and a possible chip on his shoulder, Freeman could very well be the value bargain pick up the team as a dual-threat.
A torn ACL ended Lamar Miller’s 2019. With him and Carlos Hyde on the active market, the fact that Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien hasn’t made a decision on either is a head-scratcher. What makes their limbo more baffling is the team didn’t draft a running back either. With that in mind, Miller’s injury lowers his value and he’ll need to prove himself again. Since signing with the Texans in 2016, Miller nearly topped 3,000 rushing yards, 678 receiving yards and 18 total touchdowns. He wasn’t a receiving threat either when he was in Miami.
It’s probably a stretch at this point with Freeman at 28, Miller at 29, and LeSean McCoy at 32. If McCoy isn’t ready to hang it up just yet perhaps he still has some gas in the tank left. While he finally got a Super Bowl ring with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019, he remained largely inactive during their playoff run. Despite his diminished playing time, he’s still been capable of breaking long gains. His speed would definitely be an asset on third downs. At best he’s a rental, but a potential game-changer.
With the Buccaneers all in for 2020, would a veteran running back help push the offense over the top? Wouldn’t hurt to find out.