The Buccaneers’ running game hasn’t been impressive for the better part of the last ten years. A couple of 1,000 yard seasons from Doug Martin, but by and large its been disappointing. A constant rotation of below average backs have led to a rotation of helplessness. Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber had a respectable season but heading into the 2020 season only Jones and Dare Ogunbowale are under contract.
That means the free agency market could open up some opportunities for the Bucs to improve at the position without having to spend high draft capital. Chris Thompson has proven to be an effective rusher in this league and could do so on a team friendly deal.
CHRIS THOMPSON’S CAREER THUS FAR
Thompson was a fifth round pick - 154th overall - in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. Thompson has started just one game but has played in 66 over the last seven seasons, racking up 1,194 yards and five touchdowns on 250 carries - a 4.8 yards per carry average. Thompson has also accumulated 1,772 receiving yards and ten touchdowns on 212 receptions making him a relatively evenly split dual threat out of the backfield.
Thompson has been somewhat a victim of circumstance, being buried on the depth chart behind the likes of Alfred Morris, Robert Kelly, Samaje Perine, Adrian Peterson, and Derrius Guice. Through all that, Thompson has been consistently injected into the offense and producing when given the opportunity.
The former Florida State Seminole hasn’t eclipsed 400 yards rushing yet in his career, but has accounted for at least 500 yards of total offense in three of his last four seasons. Unfortunately, Thompson has had a lot of injury issues throughout his career, which we will get to momentarily.
WHY IT WORKS
If Bruce Arians stands behind what he says and Ronald Jones can actually be the guy in Tampa, Thompson provides a veteran presence that can give RoJo a breather and be the second back on the depth chart. He can come in the game in any situation as he’s proven he can carry the ball and also be an effective pass catcher. That way, the Bucs aren’t stuck in a situation like they’ve been in the past where they are telegraphing what they play call is based on the running back (looking at you, Charles Sims.)
Thompson should also come in at an affordable rate, coming off a two year deal with $4.5 million in guarantees. Thompson’s production falling off during the duration of that deal will lean towards the team that signs him getting an even more affordable contract. And although the injury history - while somewhat concerning for his on field availability - will also help in negotiations for the business side of things.
The injuries. There’s a lot of them, so buckle up. Since his days at Florida State and into his pro career, Thompson has dealt with; fracture of his vertebra, torn ACL, torn labrum, sprained ankle, another torn labrum, broken fibula, and a rib bruise.
That’s a lot.
Thompson falls into that high risk, high reward category where if he stays healthy he can develop into a major contributor to the offense while being the second half of a one-two punch with Jones.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
For starters, we don’t know what kind of role Chris Thompson is looking for. Is he on the hunt to be the feature guy? Is he good with the role he’s been in while in Washington? Is he looking to join a contender or just the biggest paycheck he can find? All these play into the player’s potential interest in a team.
While the Bucs may be on the cusp of contending in the playoffs, they certainly aren’t on the cusp of a championship. With questions surrounding what they’ll do at the quarterback position - which should be answered in some capacity by time free agency kicks off - there may be some hesitancy from players about joining the Bucs when they don’t know who the guy under center will be.
We also don’t know if Ron Rivera will be trying to keep him in Washington with Guice and Peterson or what kind of interest Thompson will generate on the open market. It’s extremely unlikely Thompson will be one of those initial wave type of players, but there may be some interest from guys like McVay in Los Angeles or Gruden in Jacksonville as they’ve worked with Thompson before and know what he’s capable of.
MAKE THE DECISION
It’s completely plausible that the Buccaneers just bring Peyton Barber back and continue the tandem that began to blossom last season. It’s also just as plausible that the Bucs look to improve the position. Is Chris Thompson that improvement? What do you think of him? Vote in the poll below and discuss in the comment section.
When it comes to Chris Thompson, the Buccaneers need to...
This poll is closed
Sign Him, No Matter What
Make An Offer, But Keep It Reasonable
Invite Him For A Cup Of Coffee And See Where It Goes From There
Call Him Up If We Have A Need After The Draft
Don’t Need Him