Tampa Bay Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht spoke to the media on Monday, and our partners, Champa Bay-TV were on hand for it all, so keep an eye on Champa Bay-TV and Bucs Life as we will bring you news direct from the team.
A question was presented to the Bucs’ 9th-year GM on if re-signing Leonard Fournette would prevent the Bucs from taking a running back in the Draft this year. It sounds like the Bucs may be in the market to add another running back to the roster through this year’s NFL Draft.
“Obviously, getting Leonard back was great,” Jason Licht stated. “Anytime you can have a three-down back on your roster, it poses challenges for a defense.” He continued. “We felt like Ke’Shawn took some big steps last year, and we gained a lot of confidence with him. And then with Gio – good change-of-pace back, good hands, some value in the return game as well.” In summing it all up, the Buccaneers long time GM indicated that: “no, it would not stop us from taking a back.”
The Buccaneers are obviously in a fairly good spot when it comes to running backs. Leonard Fournette has done a great job of carrying the football amid shared carries (277) with Ronald Jones and has landed on paydirt 14 times in the past two seasons. His 1,266 yards from scrimmage in 2021 is good for tenth in the league by a running back, and his 8 touchdowns are also good for tenth in the league if you count a 4-way tie. Fournette’s return will give the Buccaneers consistency at running back, but the team’s offense is a rushing attack by committee. Buccaneers 3rd-year runningback Ke’Shawn Vaughn has been stepping up these past couple of seasons and seems to be on the cusp of opening up. He shows signs of greatness at times; however, with limited carries, he has yet to fully blossom — that may change this season.
The Bucs also re-signed veteran running back Giovani Bernard, who is a nightmare for defenses on 3rd down. He was limited in play last season due to injury but still managed to show that when he is healthy, he is dangerous. 8 carries for 58 yards and an average of 7.3 per carry, plus 23 catches for 123 yards and 3 TDs is what is frightening for a defensive coordinator. When Bernard is healthy, he might just be one of the most dangerous players on the team.
All of this is fine and dandy, and it seems are top 3 at running back is established with Kenjon Barner for depth, but the Bucs want to be sure they are set for the season. I’d look for the Bucs to take a running back in this year’s draft to help solidify the running back rotation. The team has already been actively doing their diligence at the position by bringing in these potential draft picks for pre-Draft visits.
- RB Dameon Pierce (Florida)
- RB Hassan Haskins (Michigan)
- RB Isaiah Spiller (Texas A&M)
- RB James Cook (Georgia)
- RB Malik Davis (Florida)
- RB Rachaad White (Arizona State)
I would not be surprised to hear any of their names called in the next week or so, as the team is not only making a run for it all this year but looking for some fresh legs to help carry them into the future.