With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers mired at 3-3, it behooves the underperforming team to make big moves before the NFL’s November 1 trade deadline.
Bleacher Report named the Bucs as one of “the most desperate” teams as the trade deadline approaches. The Bucs need “a competent running back and a proven offensive lineman”, Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay wrote.
Injuries and poor performances amounted to a weak showing by the Bucs offense in the first six weeks of the season. Bucs quarterback Tom Brady hasn’t looked like Tom Brady with just eight touchdown passes and 6.7 yards per completion. The run game looks worse, as Kay pointed out with the Bucs averaging a league-worst 67.5 rushing yards per game.
Tampa Bay’s 20.2 points per game doesn’t rank the Bucs at the bottom, but only 11 teams have worse averages — including a Pittsburgh Steelers team the Bucs couldn’t beat in Week 6. Now, the Bucs will face another offensively inept squad in Carolina with first place on the line for the NFC South Division in Week 7 on October 23.
“If the offense can’t get rolling soon, the Buccaneers won’t be much of a Super Bowl threat,” Kay wrote.
Getting healthy may not happen quickly enough or do enough in the end without additions via trades. Wide receiver Julio Jones remains out, including Week 7, with a knee injury. Rumors of Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen returning for November remain only rumors.
Bucs’ Potential Running Back Targets
Heavy’s Johnathan Adams suggested trading away wide receiver Scotty Miller plus day-two draft picks for Akers. That would give the Bucs more depth at running back behind Leonard Fournette, who hasn’t received much relief for Rachaad White and Ke’Shawn Vaughn this season. Vaughn notably is also a trade candidate according to Heavy NFL Insider Matt Lombardo.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport previously reported that Akers “could be on the way out” according to sources. Akers hasn’t wowed this season, but his career-best from 2020 holds promise. He tallied 4.3 yards per carry and 2 touchdowns on 145 rushing attempts plus 11 receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown catch. Akers missed almost all of 2021 due to injury.
If the Bucs can’t get Akers, Cleveland Browns running back D’Ernest Johnson might suffice. NFL.com’s Eric Edholm identified Johnson as a player who “should be on the move” before the trade deadline. Johnson only has two career starts, but “he has never lost a fumble on 190 career touches”, Edholm noted. The Bucs have seven fumbles this season.
Other running backs for the Bucs to consider include David Montgomery, Antonio Gibson, and Melvin Gordon. NFL.com’s Kevin Patra identified all three backs as players who could get traded before the deadline.
Gibson averages 3.5 yards per attempt for the Washington Commanders, and he’s a year removed from a 1,000-yard, seven-touchdown season with the team. Gordon averages 3.6 yards per carry with an underperforming Denver Broncos offense, but he posted more than 900 yards and eight or more touchdowns in the past two seasons with the team.
Bucs’ Best Bets at Offensive Line Targets
Tampa Bay’s biggest offensive line needs remain at guard where rookie Luke Goedeke has struggled and Shaq Mason is now injured. Top trade candidates for the Bucs include the Bears’ Michael Schofield, Jackson Carman of the Cincinnati Bengals, and Oli Udoh of the Minnesota Vikings.
Bleacher Report tabbed Schofield as one of the “honorable mentions” among top league-wide trade candidates at all positions going into Week 7. Schofield started 12 games for the Los Angeles Chargers last season, but the Bears have only played him twice this season. The eight-year veteran has 81 career starts.
Bengals beat writer Jay Morrison of The Athletic suggested Carman for the trade block after losing a starting guard job to Cordell Volson. Morrison noted that the Bengals are in a position “to take whatever offer they get” for Carman. The Cincinnati native started six games last season for the Bengals and played snaps during the Super Bowl run in the playoffs.
Udoh could help a guard-hungry team, Pro Football Network noted. Udoh started 16 games last season but got beat out by rookie Ed Ingram, per Pro Football Network. The fourth-year veteran notably helped the Vikings succeed on offense with 6,168 total yards in 2021 for 12th in the NFL.
To obtain any of these linemen, the Bucs likely would need to trade away draft picks and/or Vaughn.