With the likelihood of Cadillac William's re-signing diminishing with each day the team spends in training camp, I have been forced to look at this roster and shake my head at the running back situation. Allen Bradford is currently the only running back that was drafted into the NFL on the roster. Legarrette Blount had a big year last season, but was inconsistent. Earnest Graham is the seasoned veteran amongst the group, but hasn't carried the ball more than 20 times since 2008.
Armando Allen and Mossis Madu are most likely training camp fodder, and Lumpkin scratched his way onto the team last season after impressing coaches in camp. I understand that running back in the NFL is by far and away the easiest position to "plug and play", but the lack of depth and experience on the roster is a bit disturbing for a team that has playoff hopes.
The Buccaneers seem to have put a lot of faith in Blount, and hopefully he can shoulder the load. That doesn't protect us from injury though. Blount's aggressive running style makes him a prime candidate to get banged up. If he goes down for an extended period of time, the Buccaneers may as well kiss their season goodbye. Earnest Graham has never disappointed us in the past when his number was called, but let's face it. He is a 31 year old backup running back whose best days are most likely behind him.
Just for the heck of it, I decided to peruse the remaining running back free agents out there. Read after the jump for a list of guys that are still out there and whether or not they may fit in. I realize that this is most likely an exercise in futility as the Bucs are stubbornly sticking to their "draft only" plan, but a little rosterbation never hurt anyone.
Unfortunately there aren't a lot of guys out there at this point. I was really hoping for Jerious Norwood or Darren Sproles, but alas, they have signed with other teams. I just want to say I'm not advocating picking up any of these guys. I'm just trying to give you a picture of the options that are out there to add depth to the running back corp.
Ladell Betts UFA
Betts is the epitome of mediocre. He is a below average running back and a slightly above average option out of the backfield. His best years were spent in Washington and his career has been on a steady decline since his monster year in 2006. Last season with New Orleans Betts ran for 150 yards at a dismal 3.3 YPC and found the end zone twice. Betts is also 32 years old and doesn't fit the youth movement at all. No thanks.
Michael Bush RFA
Michael Bush is an absolute beast who has had quite a bit of bad luck in his career. Despite the fact that he should be a UFA, a technicality landed Bush on the RFA list this season because he spent his rookie year on the non-football injury list. His numbers are great, but I'm not even going to go over them with you as it likely won't matter. The Raiders like their Bush/McFadden tandem and this front office isn't parting with a draft pick for a backup running back, no matter how tempting it might be for a player of Bush's caliber.
Jerome Harrison UFA
Harrison is most likely known by most of you as the player that ran for an astounding 286 yards in one game. He was a revelation off the bench for Cleveland in 2009, but they traded him away last season and shipped him off to Philly. The Eagles weren't sold either, and failed to sign Harrison this offseason. Instead they picked up Caddy's former partner in crime, Ronnie Brown. Harrison didn't see much action last year but did manage to average 6.0 YPC while he was playing for the Eagles. After taking a look at Harrison's numbers I was very surprised to see he had very pedestrian numbers out of the backfield throughout his career. I'm not sure if this indicative of his ability, or he hasn't gotten the chance, but either way it would be questionable for the Bucs to sign him as their 3rd down back.
Brandon Jackson UFA Jackson has been signed by the Cleveland Browns
Jackson was forced into action last season after Ryan Grant suffered his nasty injury in Green Bay. Jackson was less than impressive as a primary running back. He amassed 737 yards, but only at 3.7 YPC. He is an excellent option out of the backfield though. He and Rodgers connected 43 times last year for 8.0 yards per catch. Jackson would be a serviceable third down option for the Bucs, and he should be cheap. I would much rather have Caddy, but I would feel better with Jackson than any of the other options currently on the roster.
Julius Jones UFA
Jones has bounced around the NFL and has never lived up to his potential. He played decently in New Orleans last season, but isn't worth taking a shot in my opinion.
Laurence Maroney UFA
Maroney had an absolutely abysmal year in Denver last season. No thanks.
Kevin Smith UFA
This is probably my favorite option on the list. Smith went to UCF and a homecoming might do him some good. His playing time was cut last year with the Lions drafting Jahvid Best, but Smith has averaged 9.1 yards per catch out of the backfield throughout his career, and I think he would be a good fit for the Bucs. He fits in with the youth movement as well.
Jason Snelling UFA
Snelling impressed me last season while he has playing for Atlanta. He was their primary third down back. He is excellent at pass protection, and a true threat as a receiver out of the backfield. Matt Ryan found him 44 times to the tune of 303 yards and three TDs. Snelling is 27 years old, so he is right there on the border as far as the youth movement goes. Snelling could also probably offer some very valuable insight into our mortal enemy's offense. I wouldn't mind them bringing him into camp at all.
Ricky Williams UFA
Ricky is 34 years old. Miami is likely not interested in re-signing him not that hey have assured Reggie Bush he will be the man. I like Ricky, and it is important to remember that he has missed two full seasons so he isn't your average 34 year old running back (it there is even such a thing). Williams totaled 673 yards at 4.2 YPC last year and managed to find the end zone a couple of times. He is also an adept receiver out of the back field. Although he certainly doesn't fit the youth movement , I wouldn't mind signing Ricky as a stop gap for depth and a solid option on 3rd downs.
Fred Taylor and Brian Westbrook UFAs
Both these guys are old and washed up in my opinion. No thanks.
So let's hear it BN. Are any of these guys feasible for the Bucs?