The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going all in for another season with Tom Brady, and the team may have an opportunity to add more star power to the backfield. Giants running back Saquon Barkley has been the subject of trade rumors throughout the offseason, and Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox labeled the Bucs as the best fit to acquire the star playmaker.
“The second overall pick in the 2018 draft is entering the fifth and final year of his rookie contract,” Knox wrote on June 13, 2022. “He was superb as a rookie Pro Bowler but has had his career derailed by injuries. He barely topped 1,000 rushing yards in his second season, suffered a torn ACL in 2020 and averaged a mere 3.7 yards per carry in 2021.
“…The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to win now and could use another dual-threat running back after losing Ronald Jones II in free agency. Tampa has $10.5 million in cap space available and could afford to add Barkley as another outlet option for Tom Brady. Barkley’s contract situation may be easier to take for the Bucs than for other teams. Having Barkley on a one-year deal isn’t as much of an issue for a team that may enter a full-blown rebuild if Brady retires (for real, this time) next offseason.”
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Barkley Has Only Played in a Combined 15 Games the Last 2 Seasons
Barkley has only played in a total of 15 games over the last two seasons, notching 162 carries for 593 rushing yards and two touchdowns during his 13 appearances in 2021. The star running back also added 41 receptions for 263 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
Barkley is going into a prove-it season as the running back enters the final year of his $31 million rookie contract. The running back is slated to have a $7.21 million salary for 2022 and will be a free agent next offseason. Barkley’s health combined with his production this season will be major factors in what contract the playmaker lands in 2023.
Fournette: ‘I Have to Get My Weight Down’
The Buccaneers signed Leonard Fournette to a three-year, $21 million contract this offseason, but the running back admitted during mandatory minicamp that he is not in football shape. Fournette revealed that he currently weighs 240-plus pounds but prefers to play somewhere between 228 to 230 pounds.
“Well, I’ve been here with A.P., just working out and things like that,” Fournette explained during a June 7 press conference. “Obviously, I didn’t get my weight down, which has always been [up] during the summer. We always get my weight up, it’s gonna come back down, though. …I ran like 23 [miles per hour] in college, so that’s why I have to get my weight down, to get back where I want to be. That’s definitely one of my goals right now to play at the weight I feel comfortable at. …I’m at a 240-something right now. So, definitely 230, 228 [is] definitely my range.”
It is hard to argue that running back is a major need for the Bucs to address, but the team would be wise to at least explore a potential trade for Barkley. The Giants may be willing to move on from Barkley if they do not plan to re-sign the running back next offseason. It is hard to imagine New York commanding more than a mid-round draft pick for the star given Barkley’s recent injury history along with the declining value of running backs around the NFL.