The Bucs seem content with their backfield for the 2022 season. Starter Leonard Fournette was re-signed to a three-year deal worth $21 million.
The Bucs re-signed veteran third-down back Giovani Bernard and replaced Ronald Jones II with Rachaad White, a third-round draft pick.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn is back for his third season and Kenjon Barner will compete for kick return duties. But Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox suggests that the Giants could trade running back Saquon Barkley, who is in a contract year. Knox believes the Bucs are the best fit.
Barkley, the second overall pick in 2018, made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. He rushed for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns in addition to catching 91 passes for 721 yards and four more TDs.
Barkley’s production was down the next year, as he rushed for 1,003 yards and six touchdowns, while catching 52 passes for 438 yards and two more scores.
The former Penn State star suffered a torn ACL two games into his third season, and rushed for only 562 yards and a pair of TDs last year in 13 games. He also caught 41 passes for 263 yards and two TDs. As Knox points out, Barkley seems ready to rebound in 2022.
“He’s been good. He’s been able to do everything we’ve asked him to do,” Giants coach Brian Daboll told reporters.
“… The routes we’re asking him to run, his quickness, his ability to get in and out of breaks, his long speed. It’s all looked good.”
Knox’s Reasoning For The Bucs Potentially Trading For Barkley
Here’s why Knox has the Bucs as the best fit in terms of trading for Barkley. While a healthy Barkley could help get more out of Jones, he could also bring much-needed value in a trade.
His guaranteed $7.2 million salary isn’t excessive, and the Giants might be able to pry a high Day 2 pick from a contender if they’re willing to absorb some of it.
The alternative for New York is letting Barkley play out his contract and then deciding whether to invest heavily in an up-and-down running back with a lengthy injury history. That’s a tough position for a franchise that isn’t ready to compete now.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to win now and could use another dual-threat running back after losing Ronald Jones II in free agency.
Tampa has $10.5 million in cap space available and could afford to add Barkley as another outlet option for Tom Brady.
Barkley’s contract situation may be easier to take for the Bucs than for other teams. Having Barkley on a one-year deal isn’t as much of an issue for a team that may enter a full-blown rebuild if Brady retires (for real, this time) next offseason.
Is Barkley A Good Fit In Tampa Bay?
The Bucs loved Barkley coming out of Penn State. They would have considered taking him with their first-round pick if he was still on the board.
His ability to run and catch the ball has to be appealing to Tampa Bay. But with Fournette already under contract, how much would it cost to acquire Barkley if the Bucs were interested? And how much salary would he command next year as a free agent?
Tampa Bay is very high on White, and Vaughn showed some improvement last year as well. But Bucs running backs have had notoriously underwhelming rookie seasons in Tampa Bay.
Jones rushed for 44 yards on 23 carries and one touchdown with seven catches for 33 yards in 2018. Vaughn rushed for 109 yards and had just five catches for 34 yards and one TD as a rookie.
If the Giants are looking to deal Barkley this year and if the Bucs wind up being interested after the preseason it would certainly be a good fit.