A forgotten man?
With all the hoopla, arguing, and bickering going on over soon-to-turn free agent Jameis Winston, one player that has been here the last four years, has seemingly been forgotten in all the talk about impending free agents. Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre Paul, Carl Nassib, and Breshard Perriman have all been covered in numerous articles among Buccaneer News Outlets, but Peyton Barber an undrafted free agent out of Auburn who becomes an unrestricted free agent on March 18th, not so much.
The emergence of Ronald Jones II
Entering the 2019 campaign, Barber was the starter, and held off Ronald Jones II for the first seven games. Jones took the starter’s job from Barber for the last nine games, finishing the last two games of the season strong. During those last two games, Jones broke off runs of 49, 33, 25, and 16 yards. Jones has the potential to be a big-play-runningback, which is something the Bucs desperately need. Even on a team that throws the football for the majority of its offensive yards, you have to be able to run the ball well to truly be successful in the NFL. Let’s face it; the Bucs haven’t had a running game to speak of in a long time. The Bucs finished 25th in the league in runs of ten yards or more. For the last four years, the Bucs have finished in the bottom third of the league in rushing yards per game.
Need for a new horse in the stable to go with Jones
Even with a versatile back such as Jones, the Bucs will surely be looking to add some talent to the stable. Where does that leave Barber and his future in Tampa Bay? I believe he will be a casualty for the 2020 season and will be moving on. He just isn’t a big-play type runner. He’s more of a sure-footed, plodding type runner. He doesn’t possess great speed, and he’s not a receiving type back either. It all spells the end of his days hanging out on Dale Mabry, Sunday afternoon. He played a role for this team, and for the most part, he did what was asked of him and did find some limited success on a team that the running game was an afterthought.
Offensive line neglected for the last 20 years
Moving onto the 2020 season, the hopes are that the offensive line will be addressed in the draft. This is a unit that has all but been forgotten for many, many years. This team hasn’t taken an offensive left tackle in the first round since Kenyatta Walker in 2001. That’s almost twenty years for the Love of Charles McRae, who was the one taken before Walker in 1991 in the most important round. Two left tackles in 30 years in the first round. It boggles the mind the draft habits of this team when it comes to such an important position. I truly believe the production from our quarterbacks has been affected by this habit of ignoring the importance of the position. Just a note, K. Walker ended up playing right tackle for the Bucs and started for them in the Super-Bowl when they blew out the Raiders.
Free agency or the draft?
Now that I have established the fact that Barber is probably moving on, the questions turn to: Who and how will the Bucs fill Barber’s position in 2020? The preferred outlet for adding a new horse to the stable is through the draft, where a running back has a better chance of jumping into a starting role and is less expensive than an established free agent. There are a few interesting choices on the free-agent market, though, for 2020. Kareem Hunt of the Browns, Melvin Gordon from the Chargers, as well as Austin Ekeler of the Chargers. Gordon is a strong running power type back that can be a receiving threat. Ekeler is also a big threat through the air. Hunt, who ran into personal problems while with Kansas City, had a fantastic rookie campaign but was a forgotten man with all the Browns problems last year. There are a number of potential rookies with talent in this year’s draft. That is another article. Go Bucs!!