Pictures of the Buccaneers' running backs.
With Jacquizz Rodgers re-signed early in free agency and Charles Sims returning from injury, this group is deep enough that it can easily field a full rotation of backs even while Doug Martin is out due to his suspension. It may not be until Martin's return that the overwhelming numbers lead to difficult decisions.
Martin has two Pro Bowl years in his five seasons in the league but was beset by injuries and other troubles last year. After using the first part of the year to attend to his personal issues, he has returned to the field looking as fit and ready as he did at this time in 2015 before a monster campaign. If Martin does indeed display his 2015 form, there's little question he'll be the lead back in 2017.
However, the Bucs have other candidates for first and second-down snaps. Rodgers was very impressive in relief of both Martin and Sims last year, using his first real shot to be an every-down back in the NFL to prove he could handle that job. In addition, rookie Jeremy McNichols looks to be cut from the same cloth as Martin – even down to their Boise State roots – and could either be a lead back or a very useful third-down asset thanks to his reliable hands and well-developed pass-protection skills.
The Bucs even have good fits for a variety of specialty roles. The Bucs may like McNichols' fit on passing downs but they already have a proven player for that job in Sims, who was a fantastic complement to Martin in 2015 before running into his own injury troubles last year. Peyton Barber, an undrafted rookie last year, is a bigger, more rugged runner and could be useful in short yardage situations. Russell Hansbrough, small and shifty, might work as a change-of-pace back. Quayvon Hicks could be the answer if the team chooses to carry a fullback this year, which it did not do in 2016.
Hansbrough, Hicks and Blake Sims might be long shots to carve out spots on the 53-man roster, but that still lives five backs that the team clearly values highly. It could be tough to keep them all in the long run.