One of the biggest subplots of the NFL offseason has been the drama surrounding the running back market. It’s not just that guys like Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette, and Dalvin Cook were discarded by their teams, it’s that both they and guys who are still on active rosters can’t seem to get paid what they’re worth.
The biggest domino was New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, who sparked a revolution among running backs when he stood up to his team during contract negotiations. Such a thing isn’t uncommon, but it was the way that the rest of the backs around the league rallied behind him and shared the sentiment of being underpaid that caused a stir.
While Barkley eventually settled for a one-year, $10 million contract to end his holdout, things only got nastier for Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor. Rather than work things out behind closed doors, Colts owner Jim Irsay engaged in a war of words with Taylor’s agent on Twitter and is resorting to potentially shady antics after flat out telling Taylor he’s not worth what he thinks he is.
It was a sort of Event Horizon moment, at least in terms of Taylor’s relationship with the Colts. Not long after Irsay went scorched earth, Taylor formally requested a trade which has thrust other teams around the league into the chaos.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are among those teams.
Buccaneers listed as potential Jonathan Taylor landing spot
In a piece looking at potential trade destinations for Jonathan Taylor, Bleacher Report listed the Buccaneers as a possible landing spot.
The logic seems to center around the idea that the Bucs need a guy like Taylor to help get the most out of Baker Mayfield and to fix the league’s worst rushing attack.
”In life post Tom Brady, Tampa Bay is set to begin with Mayfield as the team's starting signal caller following a rough couple of years,” Rosa wrote. ”Having a security blanket like Taylor in the backfield will be a huge step in helping Mayfield and the rest of the offense gain more confidence.”
We’re going to stop right here — the Buccaneers aren’t going to trade for Jonathan Taylor.
Whether they should or not is separate from the whether they can or not debate. The Bucs partially contributed to oversaturating the running back market when they released Leonard Fournette back in March. It was a mutual decision, one Fournette reportedly made after Tom Bradley retired, but the reason the Bucs didn’t fight much about it was the $55 million salary cap snag the front office had to untangle.
This has been an offseason of Tampa Bay taking its medicine for going all-in on trying to win a Super Bowl the last three seasons. The team is strapped for cash, and adding a guy like Taylor to the situation doesn’t really work.
If the Bucs traded for him, they’d not only have to surrender a high draft pick but would need to give him the contract extension he wants. There simply isn’t enough money to make a deal work, even if the Bucs wanted it to happen — which is rather presumptuous.
Rachaad White was mentioned in the B/R piece, but in more of an off-handed way. He hasn’t established himself like Taylor has, but all indications are that White has the full support of everyone in the building in developing into the lead back of the future.
Taylor would obviously be a great addition, but White fits the timeline and the strategy the front office has for building a sustainable contender. As much fun as it is to ponder what he’d be like in Tampa Bay with a run-heavy offensive coordinator and Skip Peete as his running backs coach, it’s not going to happen and all of that energy should be put into hyping up Rachaad White.