Best available free agent running backs Buccaneers could still target

If the Bucs are going to add to the running back room, there are still a few intriguing options out there.
New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

A lot of things went right for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year, as the team overperformed and ended up proving the doubters wrong. Rather than own a Top 3 draft pick, the Bucs didn't play their final game of the season until the NFC Divisional Round, and the team has sights set even higher in 2024.

If success is going to come again, then the Bucs will need to shore up one of the key areas not working. Nothing has been more disappointing than the lack of run game production for Tampa Bay, a struggle that is entering its third straight season.

Over the last two years the Bucs have ranked dead last in rushing, with only marginal and hardly impactful improvements made. Rachaad White has taken over as RB1 and had a bit of a breakthrough season last year but it was primarily as a pass-catching threat out of the backfield rather than a top running back.

There are a ton of factors that play into this, from strange offensive playcalling to poor line play. Something needs to change, though, and it's clear that improving the run game is a priority for the Bucs heading into next season.

If that's going to to truly happen, then adding another body to the running back room might be a route the team takes.

Best available running backs Buccaneers can still target this offseason

We're now deep into the offseason and the free agency frenzy as cooled siginficantly since March. Just because there isn't the mad dash to sign players doesn't mean there aren't good players still available, and tha market calming down might mean some notable names are in the right price range for Tampa Bay.

Todd Bowles said earlier this offseason that he'd love to see the Bucs add another running back before the season starts. The Bucs did that in the form of drafting Bucky Irving out of Oregon in the fourth round, but there are still some intriguing names the team could entertain in free agency.

  • Dalvin Cook
  • Cam Akers
  • Joshua Kelley
  • Latavius Murray
  • Kareem Hunt
  • Matt Breida
  • Jerick McKinnon
  • Jakob Johnson
  • Kevin Smith
  • Melvin Gordon
  • Alex Armah
  • Brandon Bolden
  • Eno Benjamin
  • Deon Jackson

Dalvin Cook is the one that sticks out the most, as the Bucs are in desperate need of a short-yardage back who can help move the chains and assist in goal line sitautions. As good as White was, he wasn't able to help in those short-yardage situations, and drives suffered as a result of Tampa Bay not having that option.

Cook could change that, and might not cost a lot to bring in.

He spent a miserable season with the Jets last year but showed flashes on an otherwise terrible offense. He's only a year removed from being the leadback in Minnesota and a trip down to Tampa Bay could help put him back on the map if he puts together a good season.

Melvin Gordon could also help fill that need, and he's likely be even cheaper than Cook. He's on the other side of his prime but Gordon has shown an ability to be useful and would qualify as a low-risk gamble for the Bucs to take.

If the team doesn't make any additions, the running back room is still pretty solid.





Rachaad White

Bucky Irving

Chase Edmonds

Sean Tucker

That's not going to blow anyone away on paper, but Liam Coen might be able to make due with what he has. Then again, if Bowles wants another running back, his new offensive comes from a system in Los Angeles where multiple backs were used so adding one more before training camp might make a lot of sense.

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