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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Depth Chart Breakdown: Running Backs

A look at the Buccaneers' running backs after free agency.

Pictures of the Buccaneers' running backs.

The Buccaneers haven't lost any of their primary ballcarriers from last season, but that doesn't mean the position is without question marks.

Antone Smith is an unrestricted free agent who has not been re-signed, but he was a midseason addition who got only 10 carries before landing on injured reserve. Injuries were a problem across the board in the Bucs' backfield last year, which is how a relatively low-key addition of Jacquizz Rodgers in September ended up giving the team its leading rusher in 2016. Doug Martin missed half of the season with injuries and topped out at 421 yards; he also started a league suspension in Week 17 that will bleed into the first three games of 2017.

Rodgers re-signed with the Buccaneers as soon as he could, on March 9. Whether or not the team foresees him as their lead back to start the season, he is at least a strong safety net. His 560 rushing yards last season were a career high but did not seem fluky in the least. He simply got an opportunity to be an every-down back for the first time and ran with it.

Charles Sims also missed a good portion of the season due to injuries. Assuming he's healthy to start the 2017 season he may be best cast as an outstanding complement to the lead back, as he was in 2015 when he and Martin both topped 1,000 yards from scrimmage.

Martin is obviously the hardest part of this backfield picture to predict. He and the team are currently focused on his health, and Koetter has made it clear there will be no rush to a decision on his future in Tampa. If Martin returns to his 2015 form, when he led the league's fifth-best rushing attack and made the Pro Bowl, the Buccaneers might actually be loaded on that part of the depth chart. In the meantime, the team may choose to add to that position through what is considered a very deep group of draft-eligible running backs this year.

There are actually four more running backs on the current roster, so the position is far from thin, from a sheer numbers perspective. The most intriguing of those four would be Peyton Barber, who saw a good amount of playing time as an undrafted rookie last year. Barber ran 55 times for 223 yards and a touchdown, averaging 4.1 yards per tote. He's a bigger back who could be useful in short-yardage situations, and the team appears to think he has a real NFL future.

Rounding out the group are first-year players Russell Hansbrough, Quayvon Hicks and Blake Sims, all of whom entered the league as an undrafted free agents. Hansbrough was on and off the Bucs' roster last year but didn't get a chance to carry the ball. Hicks hasn't played since a torn ACL ended his last year at Georgia in 2015; if the Bucs choose to carry a traditional fullback, he may have a shot. Sims played quarterback at Alabama but is trying to make it in the league as a ballcarrier.


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