Buccaneers: Jamaal Charles Would Be a Cheap But Smart Fit
The Buccaneers have a cloud of uncertainty hanging over their running back department. Could Jamaal Charles be the answer?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers appear prepared to enter the 2017 season with a backfield of question marks. Doug Martin is in the midst of a comeback tour after a bad 2016 season and suspension; he’ll miss the first three games of next season and it’s anyone’s guess how he’ll play when he returns. Jacquizz Rodgers performed admirably in spots last season but hasn’t proven he can hold up for a whole season. Charles Sims has struggled as a runner, while Peyton Barber has just one good game to his name. 5th round pick Jeremy McNichols can’t be counted on as anything but a project. It’s a risky approach, but there’s a potential alternative out there for the Bucs to pursue.
With all the attention going to Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles has been the forgotten man of this off-season. After a rocky season that saw Charles struggle to return from ACL surgery, the Chiefs released the legendary running back. Since then there’s been very little buzz around Charles and potential suitors, and with most teams mopping up their running back issues via draft, it’s even less clear now. I suggest the Bucs give Charles a call.
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The first question Jason Licht would need to ask is obviously “how’s your knee?”. Charles’ lack of buzz is partially to do with his age (30 years old), but mostly to do with his history of knee injuries. Charles returned last season briefly from ACL surgery but lasted just two games before complications arose that forced him to the injured reserve. If the Buccaneer doctors give a clean examination of Charles’ knee, he could be acquired on a short, cheap, and incentive based deal. Adrian Peterson received three million dollars annually from the Saints, so Charles would likely be even cheaper with upside to outperform Peterson.
The Bucs would be an ideal landing place for an aging player like Charles. He would be joining a committee of backs and wouldn’t be counted on as a bell-cow runner. He’d be useful in spots as a runner, but Dirk Koetter could really utilize Charles as a pass catcher both lined up out wide and from the backfield on screens. Charles’ smooth routes and soft hands would be a real asset for Jameis Winston, and while this seems counter-productive with Charles Sims already on the roster, Charles has something that Sims does not: real instincts as a runner.
Adding Charles would surely spell the end of Sims with the Bucs, but the addition of fifth round rookie Jeremy McNichols – a talented pass catcher – might already signal that is in the works. Replacing a one-dimensional player like Sims with a two-way player like Charles would do a lot to help the Bucs running game. When Sims comes in, defenses know that the Bucs are more than likely going to pass, but with Charles they’d be left guessing.
Next: Buccaneers Select Jeremy McNichols
If Charles is properly rehabbed, he is plain and simple a more dangerous back than Charles Sims, Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers. The Bucs are taking a risk with their running back committee and it’d be wise of them to add another potential solution into the mix in the form of a possible Hall of Famer.