The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been linked to Ezekiel Elliott ever since he was released by the Cowboys, and ESPN’s Bill Barnwell floats a possible deal.
It’s been a whirlwind offseason for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one that started out pretty grim yet has turned into one that has created unexpected hope among fans.
When the offseason started, the team was fresh off a blowout playoff loss that punctuated a frustrating 8-9 season, Tom Brady had retired, and a $55 million salary cap knot needed to be untangled.
Despite all of this, the Bucs were able to bring back Jamel Dean in a surprise move and also managed to re-sign Lavonte David. In addition to those moves, the Bucs signed Baker Mayfield and Chase Edmonds, and there might be more moves on the horizon.
One of those rumored moves involved Ezekiel Elliott and it’s a conversation that — for as insane as it seems on the surface — wont’ go away.
Elliott was released by the Dallas Cowboys ahead of free agency beginning, and was almost instantly linked to the Bucs. Tampa Bay moved on from Leonard Fournette this offseason, and while Rachaad White will be assuming RB1 duties next season, he needs some help and the Bucs might look to replace one big back with another.
Buccaneers Rumors: ESPN floats possible deal for Ezekiel Elliott
As part of a larger thought exercise looking at remaining free agents, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell tossed out a hypothetical and suggested what a possible deal for Zeke and the Bucs might look like.
"Possible deal: One year, $4 million with the Buccaneers. Here, he would be part of a split backfield alongside Rachaad White, who would serve as the team’s primary pass-catcher out of the backfield. Elliott would be an early-down runner and much-needed pass protection specialist for an offense currently expected to start Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask at quarterback."
There are a few things to consider here, not the least of which is Zeke might not want to come to Tampa Bay.
Almost as soon as Barnwell tossed out this idea, his ESPN colleague contradicted the whole thing by reporting that Elliott had apparently narrowed his list of teams to just three.
The Buccaneers were not on that list.
That doesn’t mean a deal can’t get done, though. Jamel Dean was a sure-thing to leave Tampa Bay until he wasn’t, and Lavonte David was going to the Buffalo Bills until he didn’t.
Keep in mind the team freed up close to $4 million by releasing Ryan Succop, so there’s money to potentially make a deal happen.
There’s another connection that Barnwell didn’t mention that might be an ace up the Bucs sleeve. Former Cowboys running back coach Skip Peete was hired to the same position in Tampa Bay, a move Dave Canales made to help fix one of the worst rushing attacks in the league.
Players love their coaches and coaches love players they know, and everything we’ve heard about Peete and Zeke is that they have an outstanding relationship. While the Bucs didn’t make the list hat Schefter shared, it’s hard to count the Bucs out entirely.
Zeke and the Bucs remains a long shot, at best, but no matter how far out it seems the connection continues to be made.