It seems until we see anything concrete, it’s not looking like Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is looking to do much with the running game. Especially after re-signing incumbent starter Peyton Barber to a new contact.
Barber was scheduled to become a restricted free agent, but he only re-signed to a one year deal. Which means he has one year to impress this regime or out the door he goes. It’s also a sign the Bucs could take a running back by committee approach. Currently Barber, Andre Ellington and Ronald Jones, Jr. make up the running core, which won’t scare any team.
Unless Arians and offensive line coach Joe Gilbert, run-game coordinator Harold Goodwin and running backs coach Todd McNair see something in their current personnel that we all missed before, it doesn’t look like anything meaningful is going to be done to address running concerns. There’s room for a big name to compete. I suspect there could be a splash player the Bucs can invest in as a stable workhorse.
The pickings are a bit slim given how many free agents are coming off serious injury.
It’s no secret Martin’s time with the Bucs has seen more lows than highs. He could see a second like under Arians’ system. Health has been a concern, but given the way Barber’s handled the load, they would complement each other. His last two years with the team were stinkers averaging 2.9 yards a carry, but he did bring up that average back to top form in 2018 with the Oakland Raiders. Averaging 4.2 yards a carry for 723 yards and that’s sharing the load with Marshawn Lynch.
He’s a low risk/high reward name. And his availability could depend if Lynch comes back to play in 2019.
CJ Anderson is a running back on the ride despite what 2016 and 2018 tell you. He’s never averaged below 4.0 yards a carry per season. Why he hasn’t been leaned on more is a bit of a head scratcher since he played for the Carolina Panthers and later the Los Angeles Rams in limited action. While Martin’s had two 1000+ rushing yard seasons, Anderson’s only had one, but he’s been dependable most of his career.
It’s possible the Bucs could draft Josh Jacobs to be their No. 1 running back. They could take him in the late first round, should they attempt to trade down or maybe even in the second round. Despite being backup to Damien Harris, Jacobs thrived in his role with his explosive play for the Crimson Tide. The only knack against picking him is the other needs the Bucs need on the team.