After being the lead running back for the 49ers last season, Raheem Mostert wants to be given a raise or traded. Having reached a dead end with the team on negotiating a small raise Mostert has made it clear he is willing to play elsewhere. Could the Tampa Bay Buccaneers be a viable landing spot, and would they be interested?
After months of unproductive talks with the 49ers about fairly adjusting Raheem Mostert's contract (which paid him for special teams) we have requested a trade. Disappointing that it would come to this for a guy who led all NFL RBs in YPC & helped lead them to the Super Bowl.
— Brett Tessler (@TesslerSports) July 8, 2020
Mostert is under contract to earn a base salary of $2.575 million in 2020 with a cash total of $2,825 million per Spotrac.com. All Mostert is requesting is to be paid the same as teammate Tevin Coleman at $4.55 million. That’s a little less than a two-million-dollar increase. I wrote in April that Mostert’s job was clearly safe and the team would not move on from him. Today that is in flux.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been in a full arms race within the NFC south. The Saints, Falcons, and Panthers have all added talent to push their offense to a new level. So, it is understandable that the Buccaneers could still be looking to add pieces to their arsenal.
At this point, the team looks stacked at key positions. Wide receivers look set to be one of the best groups in the NFL. The tight end group has been bolstered with the addition of Rob Gronkowski. Tom Brady is now under center. The biggest question marks were at the line of scrimmage and at running back. Those were addressed in the draft but can still be improved. I assume, when hearing about Mostert’s desire for a trade, Jason Licht started to research the ability to add him to the team.
If the Buccaneers do pull the trigger on a trade, they could have one of the most potent running attacks. That will complement the amazing receiving corps already in place. Mostert was second in the league last year with 5.6 average yards a carry and totaled 772 yards with eight touchdowns. These numbers if added to Ronald Jones and Ke’Shawn Vaughn may possibly give the buccaneers a three-headed rushing attack. Much like the one the 49ers used to get to the Super Bowl last year.
There is one statistic that raises a cause for concern. Mostert averaged 3.5 yards a carry before contact last year. That’s a great indicator of the strength of the 49ers offensive line and the blocking scheme used by Kyle Shanahan. In contrast, the Buccaneers offensive line and blocking scheme only afforded Jones 1.8 yards before contact.
That striking comparison and it contrasts is an indication that the offensive scheme and line blocking need to improve over last year. If they do not then the benefit of trading for Mostert could be nullified and cost the Buccaneers a draft pick and caps space.
The 49ers, at this point, are not looking to unload their running back. They have time and cap space on their side to get a deal in place. It would also be smart to retain Mostert’s services with the injury issues they have seen with the corps group of backs they currently have.
Matt Breida was traded to the Dolphins for a fifth-round selection. This is going to push the 49ers, if they want to trade him, for something in the 4th round. If they hold Mostert long enough and injuries take place on other teams they could push for a third-round selection. That however is unlikely given that Mostert is already 28 years old. Stranger things have happened and there may a team willing and desperate enough to pull the trigger on that trade though.
The Likelihood a Trade Happens
The Buccaneers stand in a position tightly pressed against the cap. Money may be the biggest driving factor that Mostert will not be a Buccaneer. If cap space is made more available, the probability of the Buccaneers trading for Mostert would increase.
If money were not an issue Licht would be hard-pressed to not go after the running back. Especially for a fourth or fifth-round pick. Prior to sending the trade offer Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich would need to ensure a blocking scheme like the 49ers be implemented within the playbook. With that in place and a strengthened front line with Tristan Wirfs, this would be a good trade.
The probability of the trade taking place is low. First, the 49ers still have room to keep Mostert. Second, there will be teams willing to give more than the Buccaneers for his services. But beware, the Buccaneers are all in this year. They may figure out a way to further swing for the fences.
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