The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are developing into a team with a strong running game, and every strong running game requires strong blockers. And while Carl Nicks and Donald Penn make up one of the best left sides of an offensive line in the entire league, things can always get better.
So why not add the best fullback in the league to help pave the way?
The Ravens are expected to release or trade Vonta Leach in the near future as they cannot afford to keep him on his current contract, according to the Baltimore Sun. And with Erik Lorig providing the only option as a true blocking-type fullback on the current roster, Leach would represent an instant upgrade to the Buccaneers’ running game.
Leach is due a decent paycheck for the following season, so the Buccaneers would likely prefer to bring him in by signing him after he is released. So would he be worth pursuing?
The Buccaneers are going to run the ball a lot in 2013. Doug Martin is an emerging star, and with a defense that is less likely to put the offense in a bad situation by allowing buckets of points, the running game will be called upon to keep the Bucs’ defense fresh, and keep the offense on the field and in search of points. Leach would be the perfect addition to that running game, taking the place of Lorig and providing a stellar blocker for Doug Martin, Mike James, or Brian Leonard. Leach was graded out as the best blocking fullback in the NFL in 2012 according to Pro Football Focus, coming in at +16.5 in the blocking category. Compare that to Lorig, who logged a +0.5 over the course of the season, and you can see that, even with a somewhat subjective grading system, Leach represents an upgrade at the position. He’s also used to blocking for a back like Doug Martin, as his work in front of Ray Rice prepared him well for Rice’s younger version who was selected by the Buccaneers last offseason. And the Buccaneers used Lorig about as often as the Ravens used Leach, so there is a big enough role in Mike Sullivan‘s offense to satisfy the veteran fullback.
I believe the Buccaneers should do everything in their power to sign the veteran steamroller and bring him in to give Doug Martin every chance to surpass his 2012 production. And like Jameel Cook before him, he could be a sturdy blocker for a Buccaneers’ team that relies on a strong running game and excellent defense to make a deep run into the playoffs.