The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be on the hunt for a running back this offseason.
While the Buccaneers currently feature Rachaad White as its starting running back, Tampa Bay could use a boost in the running game after ranking dead last in rushing during the 2023 season. As projected by CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin, he predicts the Buccaneers to land Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard, who was named to the Pro Bowl at the conclusion of the 2022 season.
“Statistically, Pollard remained a passable starter for Dallas in 2023, but his efficiency has decreased in recent years,” writes Benjamin. “Remarkably, he’s still just 26. It wouldn’t be a shock to see the Cowboys finally pivot to a cheaper rotation.”
Why Tony Pollard is Better Used as Complementary Back
The 26-year-old running back took over the starting running back role in Dallas for the first time and the results were mixed. It was a bright spot that Pollard showed that he could handle the full-time role without splitting carries or suffering a serious injury — his 252 carries ranked seventh in the league — but his drastic decline in efficiency is a concern.
After averaging 5.2 yards per carry and 9.5 yards per reception in 2022 as Ezekiel Elliott’s running mate, those numbers plummeted with Pollard shifting to a full-time role. Pollard averaged just 4.0 yards per carry and 5.7 yards per reception.
Furthermore, these averages dipped even as Dak Prescott established himself as a top five MVP candidate, posting a career and league-high 36 touchdowns passes along with a 72.7 quarterback rating.
Despite Pollard’s disappointing season, he holds value as he enters free agency. He’s proven he not only can handle the full-time load, he’s also proven time and time again that he’s an amazing complementary option.
Why the Buccaneers Could Use Tony Pollard
Although the Buccaneers haven’t lit up opponents with White in the backfield, the second-year back did show some solid play towards the end of the season, averaging 4.7 yards per carry in the playoffs. Furthermore, White did rank seventh in the NFL in yards from scrimmage (1,539). White also ranked third in receiving yards and fourth in receptions among all running backs.
It’s also worth noting that White’s efficiency was among the worst in the NFL when it comes to rushing average. Tampa Bay made a concerted effort to run the football in 2023, with White ranking second in the league in carries with 272 attempts. However, White ran for just 3.6 yards per attempt.
While White clearly has potential and is a dual-threat back, he — and the Buccaneers — could benefit from adding another dual-threat back such as Pollard. The move only makes even more sense considering Pollard also benefits from landing on a team such as the Buccaneers considering his own limitations as a full-time back.
After playing under the franchise tag worth roughly $10 million during the 2023 season, Pollard’s market value will be smaller entering the offseason. According to Spotrac, Pollard’s market value is $6.5 million per season across two years at a total of $13 million.
Pollard is affordable and could boost Tampa Bay’s offensive attack as they look to bring back Baker Mayfield after making a surprise playoff run during the 2023 season.
Even if the Buccaneers don’t land Pollard, expect them to pursue another running back in the offseason to pair alongside White.
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