The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking to increase their lethality on offense this offseason. In the 2020 NFL Draft Tampa Bay should have running back high on their list of positions to needs. After the draft, they can continue to add depth and experience to the position in the second wave of free agency. Lets take a look at a couple of options for the Buccaneers.
New England Patriots Cap Situation
According to Overthecap.com, the Patriots are currently sitting 32nd in cap space available. Subsequently, with $893,436 in space remaining, the Patriots don’t have enough money to sign their draft class. They will now be forced to release, trade, and rework some contracts in order to get under enough to have some room for rookies and in case of injuries.
This means some players will be available soon.
Increasing The Talent Of The Third Running Back
Good teams find a way to have depth at a few positions. Great teams find a way to get depth at multiple positions. Role players can have a large impact and the running back position is one that allows teams to exploit the opposition.
Assuming the Buccaneers draft a running back to complement Ronald Jones, depth can still be added to improve the roster.
With a cap hit of $3.9 million, Rex Burkhead can be released and the Patriots can open up $2.9 million dollars of cap room. He carries a dead-money hit of one million dollars. The savings can be added to Patriots’ ability to sign their draft picks and go a long way to getting them under the cap.
Burkhead was the third back in the rotation in New England. In limited snaps, 265, Burkhead saw only 22% of the offensive plays. During that time he managed 302 yards rushing at an average of 4.6 yards a rush and three touchdowns. Not bad at all. Adding to his rushes Burkhead caught 27 of 38 targets for a small sum of 279 yards.
The only real issue is his health. He has not played a full 16 games since 2016 and has not had more than 65 rush attempts since joining the Patriots. If the Buccaneers draft a running back to pair with Jones II they will not need Burkhead to carry any large load and can still improve the team.
The least likely of the two to see free agency, James White owns $4.593 million this season in cap space and holds one million dollars in dead money. If released the Patriots free up $3.593 million in cap space. If the Patriots believe Sony Michel can take another step forward and the other running backs on the team can improve maybe White is let go.
White did not perform as well as Burkhead in his limited rushing role. On two more rushes, he managed 39 fewer yards. With 263 yards he averaged 3.9 yards a carry and only one touchdown. Where White shined was the passing game. White was second on the team in receptions, targets, yards, and touchdowns. His stat line read as a good wide receiver. Posting 72 receptions, 645 yards and five touchdowns White would be a solid addition to the Buccaneers and strongly complement Jones and a drafted running back.
Why These Players Make Sense
For the Buccaneers, these players make a great deal of sense if they can be acquired at a team-friendly price. Both players have a previous working relationship and a pre-established comfort level with Tom Brady. They can be a conduit between Brady and the new regime. Additionally, Brady will trust them when they are in the game as they both were used to pass protect as well.
For Jones II and a drafted running back, Burkhead and White would be the professional mentors they need. They won’t be pushing for a starting role but will allow for Jones II and any other additions to take a breather during the game.
The flexibility of these two additions will also cause problems for opposing defenses. Either player can play in the backfield and the offensive call will still remain disguised. Both players can be used on rush plays and in passing situations keeping defenses guessing.
Buccaneers fans will have to wait and see what the Patriots do. Maybe one of these players is what Jason Licht was referring to on SiriusXM NFL Radio. Licht stated the following, “There might be a surprise here or there. You always want to reserve a little bit for that guy that becomes available that you weren’t expecting. There always is someone.”
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