Analyst Proposes Dream Bucs Trade Sending $12 Million Playmaker to Tampa

Tom Brady

Getty The Buccaneers have underwhelmed in what could be Tom Brady's final season.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers opted not to make a move at the November 1 trade deadline, a decision that could prove costly if the team is unable to find their footing before the postseason. Tampa Bay continues to have the worst rushing attack in the NFL averaging just 73 yards per contest.

After rookie Rachaad White’s breakout performance against the Seahawks in Munich, the Bucs ground game appeared to have turned the corner. Despite averaging 4.6 yards per carry against the Browns in Week 12, White had just 64 yards as Tampa Bay returned from their bye week.

Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox outlined five hypothetical trades the analyst wished would have happened prior to the deadline. One deal has the Bucs acquiring Browns running back Kareem Hunt in exchange for a 2023 fifth-round selection.

To be clear, the only way the Buccaneers can add to their roster now would be either signing an available veteran free agent or via the waiver wire after an opposing player is released. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on November 6 that some NFL teams are imploring the league to push back the trade deadline for future seasons.

Will the Bucs Cut Fournette?

Hunt will be a free agent this offseason and would be an intriguing addition for Tampa. The challenge is the Buccaneers are projected to be nearly $50 million over the cap in 2023 taking the team out of the running for most marquee free agents.

Fournette is slated to have a $6.5 million salary next season and has underwhelmed since signing a three-year, $21 million contract last offseason. It is challenging to pinpoint the exact source of the Bucs rushing woes but Fournette, the offensive line and play calling all deserve a share of the blame this season.

The emergence of White combined with Fournette’s struggles puts into question the star’s future with the team. Tampa Bay would still take a $5 million cap hit even if the franchise released Fournette this offseason, providing a cap saving of just $1.5 million of his $6.5 million salary for 2023. Despite the small cap relief, The Athletic’s Greg Auman still views this scenario as a viable possibility unless Fournette is able to turn around his season.

“Fournette might end up as the team’s leading rusher, but the momentum will likely be with White at the end of the season,” Auman detailed on November 8.

“Could the Bucs move on from Fournette after this season? He has only $2 million guaranteed in his 2023 base salary, but cutting him would result in $5 million in dead cap money, as opposed to an $8.5 million cap hit if they kept him. The Bucs will have major decisions to make with a ton of free agents and limited salary-cap space, but if you’re going to have the worst rushing attack in the NFL, you might as well do it inexpensively. Fournette has eight games to prove he’s worth keeping around next season.”

The 2023 Free Agent Running Back Group Is Loaded

If the Bucs do move on from Fournette, could the front office look to add a veteran rusher to compliment White? As ESPN’s Field Yates detailed, the upcoming offseason features a loaded group of free-agent backs. Tampa Bay would need to go bargain shopping which makes it more likely the team will simply end up retaining Fournette given the minimal cap savings.

“The 2023 free agent RB class is absolutely stacked, including:- Josh Jacobs – Saquon Barkley – Miles Sanders – Tony Pollard – David Montgomery – Kareem Hunt – Jamaal Williams – Damien Harris – Jeff Wilson, Jr. – Devin Singletary – Raheem Mostert -Rashaad Penny,” Yates tweeted on November 28.

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