The Buccaneers' best running back from the end of last season is returning for 2018, just like Head Coach Dirk Koetter said he would. The team signed Peyton Barber to a one-year deal on Monday.
Barber was an exclusive-rights free agent, meaning only the Bucs could negotiate with him this year. They could, however, have tendered him at his current salary but seems that the team wants Barber to know he's valued.
Barber provided the Bucs' only single-player 100-yard rushing performance in 2017, going off for 102 yards against the Green Bay Packers behind a Bucs' offensive line that had been drastically shuffled prior to the game due to injuries and illness. Barber saw more action down the stretch, averaging 4.3 yards per attempt in the last five games of the season. What may be more telling of the kind of player he is, however, is his 4.7 yards per attempt on third down over the course of last season. And he converted all of them, by the way.
He recorded his first multi-touchdown game against the Falcons in Week 12. Barber only saw five carries, but two of them went into the end zone as he scored from the one and two-yard line. His 225-pound frame makes him ideal for those hard-to-get yards and he showed that he can punch it in when needed toward the conclusion of last season. Overall, he finished the 2017 season with 108 carries for 423 yards and three rushing touchdowns, adding 114 yards on 16 receptions as well.
Barber entered the league as an undrafted free agent when he signed with the Bucs in May of 2016. He was released by the team during roster cuts after Training Camp but was signed to the practice squad. That wouldn't last long as he got his first NFL start during the Bucs' first game of the season that year, making his NFL debut against his hometown Atlanta Falcons on September 8, 2016. He finished his rookie season with 223 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown, adding three catches for 28 yards.
Tampa Bay also re-signed cornerback Brent Grimes, defensive end Will Clarke and linebackers Adarius Glanton and Cam Lynch along with Barber on Monday.