Something was definitely missing from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ backfield in 2018 and that was the threat of a pass catcher. Starting running back Peyton Barber did a fine job handling the rock, rushing for 871 yards at an average of 54.4 yards per game.
For as solid as Barber was on the ground, however, catching the ball out of the backfield wasn’t an area of strength for him as he caught 20 passes for 92 yards. For anyone who knows Bruce Arians’ offense, the former Arizona Cardinals’ head coach loves utilizing his running backs as wide receivers as well. One player that comes to mind is Cardinals’ tailback David Johnson, who flourished in a role as the main ball carrier and catching passes from Carson Palmer. In 2016, Johnson rushed for 1,239 yards and also had 879 out of the backfield for Arizona in Arians’ offense.
Tampa Bay just didn’t have that guy to throw to out of the backfield, whether it was Barber, Jacquizz Rodgers or Ronald Jones III. The Buccaneers will be in search for someone who can take on both roles and though many national analysts believe Pittsburgh Steelers’ tailback LaVeon Bell seems like a likely candidate to land in Tampa Bay, it seems very unlikely due to his large price tag that would follow him.
Someone that may be able to be had at a much lower price and has a season and a half of proving his worth as a lead back is former Kansas City Chiefs’ tailback Kareem Hunt, who is currently on the commissioner’s exemption list. The NFL is wrapping up it’s three separate investigations into Hunt’s off the field incidents and once he’s taken off the exemption list, there will be a list of suitors lining up to sign him according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Sunday morning.
One of those teams could be the Buccaneers, who are in need of a dynamic running back like Hunt, who can line up in the backfield and run downhill but also go in the slot and run routes. Hunt’s production is enough evidence to prove he can carry the load, as the former Chief rushed for 828 yards and had 378 receiving through 11 games before being waived. Many will point to his off the field antics as an issue, but the Glazer family has already proven they can overlook those kind of things with quarterback Jameis Winston’s problems being an example of that.
If anything else, one thing is for certain, Tampa Bay needs a dynamic playmaker in the backfield to pair with Winston and with the Buccaneers having minimal amount of cap space to play with, Hunt has to be in the conversation.
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