Bucs after Dark: Peyton Barber not the answer for the Buccaneers

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 31: Running back Peyton Barber
TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 31: Running back Peyton Barber /

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers must upgrade the running back position even after giving their leading rusher from 2018 a one-year extension.

Wednesday afternoon, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced a one-year extension with running back and 2018 leading rusher Peyton Barber. His deal came in at a little over $2 million against the cap for the 2019 season. Despite inking a new deal in Tampa Bay, the Bucs must look for an upgrade at the running back position.

Despite leading the team in rushing yards a year ago, starting all 16 games for the Bucs, Barber’s inability to find a hole and lack of versatility catching passes out of the backfield limit what Tampa Bay can do offensively. Not to mention that Barber has averaged less than four yards per carry over the last two seasons.

If he had even averaged a hair over four yards per carry, Barber would have eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark, but instead finished with just 871 yards on a massive 234 carry workload, finding the endzone only five times in 2018. In an Arians offense, where backs must be able to run routes and catch passes out of the backfield, Barber does not fit the bill with only 20 catches for less than 100 yards receiving a year ago.

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The Bucs are running out of options, but one thing is clear: Barber is not the solution at the running back position for Tampa Bay. Whether Jason Licht and his team are having unheard of discussions with free agent running backs that we are unaware of or the Bucs truly have faith in 2018 second round pick Ronald Jones, Bruce Arians and company should do whatever it takes to take carries off of Barber’s workload.

Early in the free agency rumor mill, the Bucs were linked to superstar Le’Veon Bell, but it turns out that the Bucs were not even in pursuit of the former Pittsburgh Steeler running back. Division rival backs Mark Ingram and Tevin Coleman have both also been spoken for by the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers respectively.

One running back cut by the Jets today in wake of the Bell signing, Isaiah Crowell has been linked to the Buccaneers, and his services should come relatively cheap, anywhere from $3-4 million annually. At just the age of 26, Crowell, who could be looking to play in a warmer environment after spending his career in Cleveland and New York to this point, could be a nice fit in Tampa Bay.

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Barber must be utilized in short distance and in a goal line situation only, and a back with more versatility and explosion must be given the role of lead back. Whether it is Crowell, Jones, or another rookie in the draft, the Buccaneers cannot afford to give Barber the keys to the run game in such a make-or-break 2019 season.