With free agency coming up in a few weeks, we’ll be spotlighting potential targets for the Buccaneers. We return to the backfield today with a look at Carlos Hyde.
The Buccaneers are in the market for talent all over the field, but one of the big needs is in the backfield. Earlier this week, we looked at Le’Veon Bell as a major name that could be available if the Steelers let him get away. Expecting Tampa Bay to snag Bell might not be the most realistic thing, though it’s certainly possible. But assuming general manager Jason Licht goes in another direction, Carlos Hyde could be an option. Here’s what we know about Hyde:
Carlos Hyde’s Career
Hyde was the San Francisco 49ers’ second round pick in 2014 after a successful career at Ohio State. He spent his first season behind perennial stud Frank Gore, running for 333 yards and four touchdowns on 83 carries (four yards per carry). Gore left in 2015, but Hyde played in just seven games. In those seven games, he averaged 4.1 yards per carry, totaling 470 yards and three touchdowns.
He put together his first solid season in 2016, running for 988 yards and six touchdowns on 217 carries (4.6 yards per carry). That wasn’t just a flash in the plan season, as he went for 940 yards and eight touchdowns in 2017. He also had his best receiving season, catching 59 of his 87 targets for 350 yards. Prior to 2017, his career high in targets for a season was 33.
Why the Buccaneers Need Him
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The Buccaneers’ backfield situation is officially under construction after the team officially released Doug Martin on Tuesday. That leaves the roster without a clear-cut No. 1 guy. Peyton Barber emerged in 2017 as a guy worth keeping, but the Bucs can’t afford to just hand him all the carries and be done with it. Plus, as evidenced by his sparse usage a year ago, Jacquizz Rodgers likely won’t return. Charles Sims could return, but he has proven throughout his NFL career that he is far better suited as a receiving back. That leaves Tampa Bay with the need to find its No. 1 running back. Whether that comes through the draft or free agency, or both, remains to be seen.
Hyde might not be a guy that a lot of Buccaneer fans would be over-the-moon excited about. But he would be an intriguing option to bring in, especially if paired with a mid-round running back from April’s draft. Hyde had success in the two years he spent as a featured running back in San Francisco. And it’s fairly safe to say that the 49ers, pre-Jimmy Garoppolo at least, aren’t close to the Bucs in terms of offensive firepower. With a passing game that features Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate, Hyde could be even better. If he sticks to his career average of 4.2 yards per carry, that would give Tampa Bay a nice running game and one that would be easy to sell play-action with.
What will Hyde Cost?
One of the bigger positives about Hyde is that he won’t cost what a star like Le’Veon Bell would. Now obviously he isn’t the same player as Bell. But if the Bucs are looking for a cheaper option so that they can draft a running back to ease into things, Hyde fits. According to Spotrac, his calculated market value is $5.8 million per year. That’s about half of what Bell would want, which could please Tampa Bay considering it has a variety of contract extensions to deal with in the coming years. Taking on a contract like Bell’s would put the Bucs in a bad position in terms of salary cap. Hyde’s contract would be much more manageable.
Hyde is still fairly young, as he will turn just 28 in September. Spotrac suggests his market value is at about $23 million over four years. That seems like a reasonable contract for the Bucs to take on. Tampa Bay is in a good position right now with its cap, though it needs to be careful about what it adds considering the extensions that are due for Winston, Evans, Kwon Alexander, Ali Marpet in the coming years. Hyde’s contract could be reasonable for Tampa Bay to extend.
Will it Happen?
If the Bucs evaluate Hyde and like him more than guys with comparable market values, this could very much happen. The 6-foot, 235-pound back is a physical runner with a lot of power. He doesn’t have exceptional speed, but Tampa Bay could sign him and decide to pair him with a speedy running back from the draft. A lot of teams currently go with a two-back system. The Bucs could move to something like that after years of going with Martin as their top guy. Hyde will likely ask for a reasonable contract, one that Tampa Bay could want to give him.
One of the issues that could come into play is that Hyde has said he would like to return to the 49ers. Everyone has a price, though, so if the Bucs are offering enough then it’s certainly possible to lure him away from San Francisco. Tampa Bay can’t overpay though, so it all comes down to how much Hyde wants. At his projected market value, he could be worth it. He is certainly cheaper than Bell and signing him wouldn’t come at the expense of the team’s young core.