Buccaneers Named Top Landing Spot for $90 Million Playmaker

Getty The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could bring in Ezekiel Elliott to bolster their backfield.

While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have some legitimate weapons on their offense, general manager Jason Licht could add another significant playmaker before the start of training camp.

After parting ways with Leonard Fournette back in March, the Buccaneers have a need for an established veteran in their backfield. Fortunately for the Bucs, there is at least one workhorse running back who is still available in free agency.

Kristopher Knox with Bleacher Report gave out top landing spots for some of the best remaining free agents. For Tampa Bay, Knox wrote that the franchise would be an ideal landing spot for former Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, who was released earlier this offseason in the middle of his $90 million contract extension.

“The Buccaneers could also use Elliott, as they have very little proven depth on the roster,” Knox wrote. “Tampa, which already had Ke’Shawn Vaughn and 2022 third-round pick Pachaad, added Chase Edmonds in free agency However, the Bucs had only five rushing touchdowns last season, and Patrick Laird is the only veteran back on the roster who reached 4.0 yards per carry in 2022.”

Knox also suggested that veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would make sense for the Buccaneers as a backup.

A Look At Tampa Bay’s Backfield

If the Buccaneers don’t end up bringing in Elliott, the team will likely have to rely on a committee with their current roster of running backs.

Rachaad White is expected to be the team’s starter in the backfield. The former third-round pick saw his first NFL action as a rookie in 2022, but averaged just 3.7 yards per carry for 481 yards and one rushing touchdown. Now that he’s gotten some game experience, the Buccaneers will be expecting more efficient performances in 2023.

The Buccaneers also added some competition to the backfield this offseason by bringing in veteran Chase Edmonds on a one-year deal. The 27-year-old has spent his entire NFL career as a change-of-pace running back, but has been efficient with a career average of 4.5 yards per carry.

Other running backs competing for playing time include 2020 third-round pick Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Patrick Laird, and a pair of undrafted free agents in Sean Tucker and Ronnie Brown. Tucker is the most intriguing name of the group as the top offensive weapon for Syracuse the past few seasons, but limited size could impact his workload at the NFL level.

Does Ezekiel Elliott Have Anything in the Tank?

While Elliott may not be the same player that he was coming out of Ohio State, the 27-year-old has still been an effective running back when healthy.

The three-time Pro Bowler is coming off of his least efficient NFL season, averaging just 3.8 yards per carry for 876 yards. However, he still found the end zone 12 times and had zero fumbles on 231 carries and 17 receptions.

While the rushing efficiency has taken a step back, Elliott has remained a solid player in pass protection. He allowed zero sacks or QB hits in 2022 according to Pro Football Focus, and over the course of his career he’s only been responsible for five sacks in seven seasons.

If the Buccaneers want a well-rounded back with the ability to protect the quarterback, then Elliott would be a logical signing for them heading into training camp.

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