The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have added another weapon to what they believe will be a very potent offensive backfield in 2012.
On Saturday afternoon, after an earlier round of waiver claims added depth to the offensive and defensive lines, the Buccaneers made an additional move, signing sixth-year running back D.J. Ware. To make room on what Head Coach Greg Schiano calls a "very fluid" roster at this moment, Tampa Bay released cornerback Brandon McDonald.
Unlike the Buccaneers' earlier additions, Ware was not a waiver claim. As a vested veteran, he did not have to pass through waivers after he was released by the New York Giants on Friday, and could immediately sign with any team. Ware may have chosen the Buccaneers in part because of the presence of new Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan, who joined Schiano's staff this offseason after a long stint as a Giants' offensive coach.
Sullivan certainly got an extensive look at Ware over the last five seasons, as the former undrafted free agent gradually increased his role in the Giants' attack. His rushing and receiving totals increased each season he remained in New York, culminating in last year's effort in which he ran 43 times for 163 yards and added 27 receptions for 170 yards.
The 6-0, 225-pound Ware adds another dimension to Tampa Bay's rushing attack, which is headlined by rookie Doug Martin and last year's leading rusher LeGarrette Blount. The Bucs, who have also kept rookie running back Michael Smith, a lightning-fast smaller back who could be a weapon on third downs, intend to make the running game the centerpiece of their offense in 2012. Ware certainly has experience working in a committee-style backfield from his days with the Giants.
In his five seasons, Ware has run the ball 81 times for 324 yards and one touchdown, averaging 4.0 yards per tote. He has added 37 receptions for 252 yards. The former Georgia back entered the league as an undrafted free agent with Tennessee in 2007 but ended up with the Giants in December of that year and went on to establish himself over the next four seasons.
McDonald joined the Buccaneers as a free agent on August 20. He previously played for Cleveland, Arizona and Detroit.