Buccaneers have obvious decision in rumored Ronald Jones inquiries

Ronald Jones II, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Ronald Jones II, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

The Buccaneers need to move on from Ronald Jones if there is a chance to do so. 

The rumblings amongst the Buccaneers fanbase have apparently caught up to the NFL. The rumors have begun that other teams in the league have reached out to Tampa about the potential of a trade for Ronald Jones.

Jones was on pace to be one of the best backs for the Bucs in a very long time after a compelling 2020 campaign. Still, his inability to fit Bruce Arians’ scheme and the emergence of Leonard Fournette as a bonafide starter have relegated RoJo to a bench role in 2021.

Jones isn’t a bad back, but his inability to block, catch, or hold on to the ball consistently makes him a liability more often than not. The sheer number of missed blocks this season on such limited reps highlights this issue to the highest degree.

While the jury is out on Jones improving in these key areas, his time in Tampa is limited. Based on what we’ve seen so far, the Bucs are unlikely to bring him back after this season.

Some fans may not like to hear it, but given everything we know about Jones and this roster, the Buccaneers should absolutely pull the trigger on one of these trades if the rumors are true.

Tampa already has a starting caliber back in Fournette, a great third-down back that isn’t used enough in Giovani Bernard, and a third-round pick that is normally a healthy scratch in Ke’Shawn Vaughn that doesn’t get nearly enough time on the field.

Vaughn is the forgotten man in Tampa, but that doesn’t mean he is a bust. His rookie season was better than Ronald Jones’, and judging a player off one bad season to start their career is an unfair evaluation. The Bucs have to get more touches for Vaughn before they make a decision on his future, and the only way to accomplish this is forcibly making more room on game day.

Moving on from Jones may seem like a dangerous decision at a position that is rife with injuries on most teams, but it doesn’t hurt the Bucs that much in the long run. A backfield with Fournette, Bernard, and Vaughn is hardly anything to scoff at, and to pretend that it would be impossible to find a replacement for any of the three on the free-agent market in the event of an injury is far too pessimistic.

Some fans believe Fournette could see a reduced role as the season goes on due to wear on the tires, but to assume Jones would immediately inherit those reps ignores Bruce Arians and his expectations of running backs in the past.

The run is not the priority in Tampa. This team lives and dies by the pass, and setting up the pass would make it easier to run for most backs in the league if the scheme is right. Every Buccaneer running back needs to be able to catch and block, and Jones just doesn’t cut it in those areas.

The least of the concerns for the Bucs in this trade should be draft picks, but they are a nice silver lining. Any late-round picks do little to help now, but it is undeniable that recouping some value for a player who is on their way out the door is hard to pass up.

The Buccaneers don’t need Ronald Jones right now. Holding onto Jones because they may need him down the road actively destroys his value to the Bucs and Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s, and it also takes too much of the emphasis off Byron Leftwich and the scheme when they are the real reasons why the run game works in the first place.

It would be hard to say goodbye to RoJo after watching his transformation over the years, but the Bucs have a clear path to take if this opportunity for a trade presents itself.

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