Rodgers agreed to a two-year contract to stay in Tampa Bay, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Released by Chicago after the preseason, Rodgers surprisingly found himself in a prominent role with Tampa Bay later in the year, helping the Bucs overcome injuries to Doug Martin (suspension) and Charles Sims (pectoral). Rodgers is probably only the third option when everyone's available, but Martin and Sims have both struggled to stay healthy, and Martin has three games remaining on the suspension he was handed in December.
Rodgers is expected to re-sign with Tampa Bay, ESPN's Jenna Laine reports.
Rodgers, who finished the 2016 season with 560 rushing yards and two TDs on 129 carries, also caught 13 passes for 98 yards over the course of 10 contests for the Bucs. In his expected return to the team's backfield mix, Rodgers would likely profile as a complementary option, though the team's overall approach to the position is tied to the status of Doug Martin, who is slated to miss the first three games of the 2017 season as he completes a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances.
Rodgers' agent will meet with the Bucs at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week to begin gauging the possibility of the running back's return in 2017, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports.
Rodgers took on a much larger role with the Bucs last season than originally expected, as he finished the campaign with a career-high 560 yards rushing on a solid 4.3 YPC. He logged five starts overall due to injuries and an eventual suspension of Doug Martin and was able to demonstrate an ability to handle a lead back's workload. General manager Jason Licht has conceded that the team "really likes Jacquizz" and would ideally want him back, particularly in light of Martin's suspension and generally uncertain future with the club. However, due to the fact that Rodgers, a six-year veteran, is a minimum salary benefit player, the Bucs are not able to work out a deal with him until free agency officially kicks off, rendering any discussions this week purely exploratory in nature.
The sixth-year pro was the surprise of the Bucs near-playoff season in 2016, especially considering he didn't seem to be on the team's radar heading into the season. After opening his career with four years in Atlanta as a change-of-pace option, Rodgers spent an uneventful 2015 campaign in Chicago, playing in only five games and seeing only 15 total touches from scrimmage. However, his past Falcons tenure with Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter and others on the team's staff bore fruit once both Doug Martin (hamstring) and Charles Sims (knee) were sidelined during the first four weeks of the 2016 season, as Rodgers was thrust into a starter's role that he ended up thriving in. The Oregon State product opened his stint as the top runner with back-to-back 100-yard outings against the Panthers and 49ers, respectively, and was in the midst of another productive afternoon against the Raiders in Week 8 before succumbing to a foot injury that would sideline him for the following four games. Rodgers eventually returned to a starting role for the final two games of the season after Martin departed the team due to a pending PED suspension, totaling 138 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries and three receptions for 19 yards over that span. The expanded opportunity he saw in 2016 helped Rodgers shatter the third-down back label he'd previously been saddled with, as he carried the ball a combined 56 times over Weeks 5 and 7, while seeing double-digit totes in three other contests as well. He thus heads into the offseason as a potential full-time tailback for the first time in his career, and given his favorable track record with the team's coaching staff, diverse skill set, and Martin's uncertain future, he figures to have a strong chance of returning to Tampa on a potential multi-year deal.
Rodgers gained 75 yards on 17 carries and secured his sole target for four yards in Sunday's 17-16 win over the Panthers.
Rodgers assumed clear-cut lead back duties as expected Sunday, but somewhat surprisingly received less than 20 carries. However, as has often been the case this season, he was productive with his opportunities, posting a solid 4.4 YPC. Heading into the offseason, the running back position for the Bucs is unexpectedly in a relative state of disarray due to Doug Martin's suspension and related personal issues, which thus gives Rodgers a realistic opportunity to return to the team next season in some capacity. Both his history with head coach Dirk Koetter and his strong efforts this season (560 rushing yards, 98 receiving yards) should certainly help bolster his case in this regard.
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10||5||129||560||4.3||45||2||3||29|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10||5||13||98||7.5||21||0||1||0||3|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10||0||0||---||0||0||0|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10||2||2.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|