James White is a no-brainer for the Buccaneers.
For each team in free agency, there is generally one player per year that is a “can’t-miss” opportunity. For the Buccaneers, that player was Tom Brady in 2020, and many players came to Tampa because of that one decision. Hopefully, James White will follow suit.
In the months that followed the Brady news, Rob Gronkowski left retirement and requested a trade to the Bucs, Leonard Fournette became available as a free agent, and Brady convinced Bruce Arians to take a chance on Antonio Brown.
Other than Fournette, the common theme was players that wanted to play with Brady again after their time in New England, and James White should prioritize this more than most.
Of all the letdowns in New England after Brady left, of which there were many, the NFL lost one of its preeminent pass-catching running backs. James White was still there, but his usage was a shadow of what it once was.
In 2018 and 2019, White had 218 targets from Tom Brady. Just to give a frame of reference, White had more total catches in 2018 and 2019 than Mike Evans in each year.
Now, running backs are running different routes and don’t face the same level of coverage, but that volume of production and consistency in the passing game is impossible to ignore. When a team has a back like this that succeeds in the passing game, it just makes the teams that don’t stand out even more.
When Brady left, New England stopped relying on James White as much, but that doesn’t mean that Brady changed his ways. Brady kept throwing the ball to running backs in Tampa, but the result was very different.