On Tuesday two hall of fame running backs suddenly became available. Are either of them a fit for the running back needy Buccaneers?
As long as Doug Martin remains under contract the Buccaneers don’t technically have a problem at running back. They can easily re-sign Jacquizz Rogers and survive the four games that Martin is suspended for. However, as the off-season continues to progress it seems more and more likely that the team will choose to move on from Martin and capitalize on his voided guaranteed money.
In a different year the Bucs might look at free agency and the draft and deem Martin a safer, more talented option, but 2017 is the year of the running back. Long thought to be extinct, the running back is back in fashion and ironically it comes when two hall of fame veterans are released. Both Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles are now on the market, and come March 8th when the free agent gates open, Tampa Bay will have to determine if either of them is a better option than waiting on Martin.
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If Martin is indeed released, my answer would be Jamaal Charles, though admittedly I’m crossing my fingers.
If we go by the “what have you done for me lately?” gauge, Peterson wins. Just two seasons ago he led the league in rushing yards with 1485, while Jamaal Charles was on the shelf the majority of the year with an ACL tear. Charles’ injury lingered into 2016 and though he did manage to see the field it wasn’t long before he had a set-back and missed the rest of the season. Peterson missed much of 2016 as well after suffering a torn meniscus in week two. Both players are healthy as of right now, but combined have missed a lot of time recently.
Needless to say, these are two risky choices and there’s no sure way to tell how long they’ll be able to hold up. Still, if it were my money, I’d go with the younger, cheaper, more dynamic option, and that’s Jamaal Charles.
Peterson at age 33 is going to be paid like a workhorse running back, but almost definitely can’t play like a workhorse any more; in his three games last season he toted the ball 37 times for 72 yards, a 1.9 yard-per-carry average. Peterson struggled for the final seven games of 2015 as well, and the days of him being an efficient runner appear to be over. Peterson could counteract his regressing abilities as a runner with a pass catching role, but he’s never excelled there so it’s a stretch. The expected money just doesn’t add up with the expected role, in my opinion. Charles on the other hand is a flexible chess piece, able to be used in an early or late down role.
Charles could be a capable alternative to Charles Sims on third and the occasional early down, or he could be paired up with a rookie draft pick, in a Fred Jackson type role. The Bucs have a well documented need for offensive speed and though Charles might not be as fast as he once was, he’d instantly be the quickest back on the Bucs roster.
The few tidbits of information that we’ve got seem to link Peterson and the Bucs, though only on Peterson’s end. For starters, according to Vegas the Bucs are the favorites for Peterson:
On top of that there’s the past picture of Peterson’s agent wearing a Buccaneer hat, and Peterson’s own words just a few months ago, when he listed the Bucs as a potential team he’d play for. The secretive Buccaneer front office won’t give us any indication which way they’re leaning, so for know we’re left in limbo until March 8th. I, for one, am counting down the minutes.
Jamaal Charles is my choice here, but something tells me that this will be a hot debate in the Buccaneer fan community. Sound off in the comments with your take, or whether you’d avoid both of them altogether.