The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be an ideal destination for one of the more notable names on the free agency market.
According to a report from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Buccaneers could be an option for former Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.
“The Bucs could be an option for him,” Fowler said on Sportscenter on Saturday. “I’m told they’re looking for an RB2 behind Rachaad White. The problem could be the money. … Bucs probably wouldn’t want to spend all that much, but could be an option there.”
Why the Buccaneers Could Sign Ezekiel Elliott
Elliott was released earlier in the offseason due to his massive contract. The veteran back was due to earn $10.9 million in base salary this season, the second-highest figure of any running back in the league.
The Buccaneers are lacking a bonafide veteran option behind Rachaad White, who will be entering his second season. Tampa Bay could be seeking a replacement who closely resembles Leonard Fournette, who was released in the offseason with two years left on his deal.
While Tampa Bay did sign five-year veteran Chase Edmonds, he’s never really been considered a workhorse back. In fact, Edmonds carried the ball just 68 times last season while playing for the Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins. Outside of his 2021 season when he carried the ball 116 times, Edmonds has never racked up more than 97 carries in a single season.
Despite his declining skills, Elliott remains a workhorse back. In fact, the 27-year-old not only led the Cowboys in carries last season — 231 carries in comparison to Tony Pollard’s 193 attempts — he ranked 10th in the NFL in attempts last season.
Since entering the NFL in 2016, Elliott has ranked within the top 10 in rushing attempts during every season of his career. He’s actually led the league in attempts on two different occasions.
Ezekiel Elliott Could Be Perfect Complement to Rachaad White
Considering most NFL teams operate a two-back backfield, signing Elliott would be beneficial for the Buccaneers. When one factors in that White split reps with Fournette last season, it would only make sense for Tampa Bay to pair the young back with one who can absorb hits.
White played 39% of the offensive snaps during the 2022 season and finished the year with 481 yards on 129 carries to go along with 50 catches for 290 yards. While White did post a solid rookie campaign, he had just one rushing touchdown and 27 first downs on his 129 rushing attempts (20.9%).
Meanwhile, Elliott remains one of the most effective red zone and short-yardage backs in the league. His 12 rushing touchdowns were the fifth-most in the league.
While the Cowboys have left the door open on a possible reunion with Elliott, there doesn’t appear to be imminent interest on making that happen. Furthermore, there hasn’t been any reported significant interest from other teams in signing Elliott.
Considering Elliott’s lack of interest on the market combined with the Buccaneers looking for a bargain deal, this match could make plenty of sense. When considering Tampa Bay’s dire need for a veteran back to complement White, the Buccaneers may end up emerging as Elliott’s best option to contribute during the 2023 season.