RB Position Overview
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded back up into the first round to select running back Doug Martin, the team thought it had someone to pair with LeGarrette Blount, who ran for nearly 1,800 yards in his first two NFL seasons. Instead, they found their stud tailback, an exciting young runner that ended up in the Pro Bowl after an outstanding rookie campaign. Martin exceeded all expectations and rushed for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Bucs hit the jackpot with Martin and have a stud back for the next 5-7 seasons.
RB Position Needs
The Bucs have veteran D.J. Ware, 2012 seventh-round pick Michael Smith, and fullback Erik Lorig under contract next season. Blount is a restricted free agent and while the Bucs could decide to retain his services, he will likely be shown the door. With Martin, Ware and Smith, the Bucs have a nice mixture of styles, but not much depth at the running back position if Martin suffers an injury. They could decide to go after a veteran who comes cheap or spend a late round pick on another back. The latter is more likely to happen.
Buccaneers101.com's Free Agency Front Runners
1. Rashard Mendenhall (5'10", 225) – Mendenhall could be a decent addition to the Bucs. He's injury prone and isn't that exciting of a runner, but Mendenhall would be a nice change-of-pace back for Tampa Bay. He's also only 25 years old, despite being in the league for five seasons already. Mendenhall could be cheap after playing in only six games last seasons, but he'll likely be more than the Bucs want to spend. Getting him would be a luxury.
2. Peyton Hillis (6'2", 250) – After a breakout 2010 campaign, Hillis hasn't done much of anything the last two seasons, amassing only 896 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He should come cheap and is still a bruiser who would be a solid goal line back for the Bucs. And with only 597 career carries, Hillis still has a lot of tread left on his tires.
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