3 reasons the Buccaneers need to sign free agent running back Jay Ajayi
Ajayi tore his ACL during last season, and it’s unclear when exactly he is going to be ready to get back on the field but whenever that time comes he could be a valuable asset for the Bucs. The only teams that have had a public interest in Ajayi’s services have been the Eagles and the Indianapolis Colts, but both of those teams look like they have filled those needs through trade and the draft.
The Buccaneers do have a need still at running back so let’s breakdown the three biggest reasons this makes a ton of sense for both teams.
1. The Buccaneers Need a Low-Risk Option at Tailback
The two current running backs on the Buccaneers roster that are expected to contribute are Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones. Jones really struggled during his rookie season having 23 rushing attempts for 44 yards and Barber in his career has been better as a change of pace back.
Even though Ajayi has struggled with injuries, he is only two years removed from a season where he rushed 260 times for 1272 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Buccaneers need that true number one running back, and the options are thin in free agency. Even if he missed the first couple of weeks of the season, Ajayi could quickly take over the role. The Buccaneers have an exciting offense especially outside with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and tight end O.J. Howard and the one thing they really seem to be missing is a solid back.
2. There’s Not Much Risk with the Signing
What is the worst that could happen if the Buccaneers signed Ajayi to a one year prove it deal? He gets hurt again, and they have to turn to Barber or Jones that is already on the roster.
They would lose whatever they paid him for the one year deal, but it wouldn’t affect any of the team’s decision making going forward or tie up any of the cap space. What is the base case scenario? Ajayi becomes the feature back they have been looking for, and he has a big year and really helps the offense.
The team could then decide after the season if this is a player they want to lock up long term or if they feel the best option is to let him move on.
It would also give the team another year to evaluate Jones and see if they think he is the long term option out of the backfield.
3. This is the Best Opportunity for Ajayi
This isn’t only a decision that makes sense for the Buccaneers; it also makes a lot of sense for Ajayi. There aren’t many other teams where he would be able to get as many carries as he will with Tampa Bay.
He needs to prove to teams that he can still be trusted in the league and the Buccaneers are a perfect spot to prove that.