The Buccaneers signed RB Mike James on Tuesday.*
Mike James made the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 53-man roster to start the 2016 season but never got a chance to contribute due to a lingering preseason injury. Now James is back with the Buccaneers at midseason and, given the unabated rash of injuries to the team's stable of backs, may be asked to contribute right away.
The Buccaneers re-signed James on Monday, only a week after the first date they were technically allowed to do so. James was waived with an injury settlement prior to the season opener and, due to the length of that settlement, was not eligible to return to the Buccaneers until last Monday, October 24. He was free to sign with other teams in the interim and in fact had been on the Detroit Lions' practice squad for three weeks before he was released last Tuesday.
The Buccaneers opened a spot for James on the 53-man roster by trading fourth-year cornerback Johnthan Banks to the Lions. Tampa Bay will receive a conditional 2018 seventh-round pick in the deal. The NFL's trade deadline is on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET. This is Tampa Bay's first deadline deal since a pair of trades in 2014 sent safety Mark Barron to the Rams and linebacker Jonathan Casillas to the Patriots.
A second-round draft pick in 2013, Banks played in 50 games with 37 starts, recording seven interceptions and 17 passes defensed. He appeared in five games this season but was a game-day inactive the past two weeks.
Tampa Bay now has five tailbacks on their 53-man roster, but there is a good chance that neither Doug Martin (hamstring) nor Jacquizz Rodgers (foot) will be able to play on Thursday night when the Atlanta Falcons come to town. If so, the rushing load will be carried by rookie Peyton Barber, recent free agent addition Antone Smith and, possibly, James.
Filling in for the injured Martin, Rodgers had racked up 324 yards in his three games as the starter but was hurt scoring on a one-yard run against Oakland on Sunday. Both Martin and Rodgers were listed as "did not participate" on Monday's injury report, though that was an estimate as the Bucs did not actually hold a practice.
Smith, who previously played under Dirk Koetter in Atlanta from 2012-14, ran four times for 16 yards and caught one pass for nine yards in Sunday's game against Oakland. Originally an undrafted free agent with the Falcons in 2010, he has not started an NFL game among his 66 appearances and has career totals of 35 carries and 18 receptions. Barber is an undrafted rookie whose season totals include 16 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown.
James, who was originally a fifth-round draft pick by the Buccaneers out of the University of Miami, has some experience filling in for injured Tampa Bay starters. As a rookie in 2013 he played in eight games with three starts and carried 60 times for 295 yards while adding 10 receptions for 43 yards. After an injury to Martin pushed him into the primary role, James produced a 28-carry, 158-yard performance at Seattle on Nov. 3 of that season. However, he suffered his own season-ending injury after appearing in just one more game after that. James then played sparingly in 2014 before spending most of 2015 on Tampa Bay's practice squad.