Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Buccaneers could sign two-time Pro Bowl RB: analyst

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be the perfect landing spot for a two-time Pro Bowl running back.

As suggested by Draft Network’s Justin Melo, the Buccaneers could be the ideal target for the recently released Melvin Gordon. The 29-year-old runs back was waived by the Denver Broncos on Monday, November 21 after fumbling for the fifth time in 10 games this season.

Melo argues that Tampa Bay’s lackluster rushing offense — the Buccaneers rank last in the league in rushing yards and yards per attempt — could be bolstered with the addition of Gordon.

“The Buccaneers are averaging a league-low 70.7 rushing yards per contest,” Melo said. “Fighting inside Tampa Bay’s offensive line has limited their offensive capabilities. Rookie ball carrier Rachaad White has started earning more touches at the expense of veteran Leonard Fournette. The Buccaneers are desperate for answers to their run-game problems.”

As Melo noted, the Buccaneers are increasingly relying on rookie running back Rachaad White for carries. For the first time since their Week 1 win over the Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay actually had an effective rushing attack in their final game against the Seattle Seahawks. During the Bucs’ 21-16 win over the Seahawks in Week 10, Tampa Bay rushed for a season-high 161 yards.

Much of this had to do with effective running by White, who carried the ball for 105 yards with a career-high 22 carries. For comparison, Leonard Fournette carried the ball 14 times for 57 yards.

Despite White’s career play, Melo is pushing Tampa Bay to add Gordon while Tom Brady plays what may be his final season.

“The Buccaneers are finished,” says Melo. “A three-year Super Bowl window is expected to strike at the end of the current campaign. Claiming Gordon could improve her dwindling rushing attack, which ultimately fuels her post-season aspirations.”

Despite Gordon’s penchant for fumbling — he’s had an NFL high of 26 fumbles since the 2015 season — he was an efficient runner. During the 2021 season, Gordon rushed for 918 yards and 4.5 yards per carry while splitting carries with Javonte Williams.

However, Gordon has regressed this season. After taking over starting duties from Williams in Week 4 following his season-ending knee injury, the 29-year-old defenseman has rushed for just 3.5 yards per carry. However, much of this may have to do with Denver’s stagnant offensive offense. The Broncos’ offensive unit is bottom in the league, averaging just 14.7 points per game.

While Gordon could certainly make a difference as a third-down back or a veteran deployed for depth purposes — Tampa Bay previously attempted this with former Pro Bowl back Le’Veon Bell in the 2021 season — the bloated depth chart could the Buccaneers Tampa Bay from pursuing a waiver for Gordon.

The Buccaneers have already opened the window set for Giovani Bernard to return from injured reserve. Bernard has not appeared in a game since Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints. Additionally, Tampa Bay also has Ke’Shawn Vaughn on the list.

The Buccaneers could release Vaughn or Bernard at any time to make room for Gordon, but Tampa Bay is more likely to stick with their current group of running backs.

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