Peyton Barber may not have the highest upside at running back, but he also doesn't have a ton of competition in Tampa Bay, which makes him a viable low-end starting option to target in the middle rounds on Draft Day. At this point, it's basically just Barber or Ronald Jones, who could barely get on the field as a rookie. In an offense that should move the ball well, that makes Barber someone you can stick in your lineup against the right matchups.
Barber logged plenty of pass-catching work out of the backfield during the first week of OTAs, Carmen Vitali of the team's official site reports. Coach Bruce Arians has spoken of Barber's potential as a three-down back this offseason, and the way the fourth-year pro was utilized during the first week of on-field work supports the notion he'll have a chance to earn that type of role. The Auburn product has upped his rushing yardage with each passing season, but he dropped to 3.7 yards per carry last year and has just 41 receptions in 47 career games. Arians could have a larger passing-game role in mind for Barber, who notably didn't get any competition via the draft but will still be battling 2018 second-round pick Ronald Jones II for playing time.
The Buccaneers didn't draft any backfield competition for Barber and Ronald Jones, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports. Tampa Bay brass is at least being consistent after talking up Barber and Jones throughout the offseason. The former agreed to a one-year, $2.125 million contract in lieu of a restricted free-agent tender, hoping to build on a 2018 campaign in which he managed just 963 scrimmage yards and six touchdowns as a 16-game starter. Barber is a reliable player with no real hint of upside, while Jones is the exact opposite -- a 2018 second-round pick who barely played as a rookie. The Bucs hope Jones is ready for a much larger role in 2019, even if he doesn't usurp Barber for the starting job. The Tampa backfield also includes Shaun Wilson, Andre Ellington and Dare Ogunbowale, not to mention some incoming undrafted rookies.
Barber agreed Wednesday with the Buccaneers on a one-year contract, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Barber showed some signs of life during the second half of the 2018 campaign, but he didn't do enough to prevent the Buccaneers from actively seeking upgrades in the backfield. Whether it's 2018 second-round pick Ronald Jones or an offseason acquisition, Barber likely will face a serious challenge for the starting job. The new contract is in lieu of a restricted free-agent tender.
Coach Bruce Arians praised Barber when addressing the media at Wednesday's NFL Scouting Combine, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Barber has averaged just 3.8 yards per carry over the last two seasons, but he finally showed some elusiveness in 2018 by popping off four runs of 20-plus yards after logging just two such carries in his previous 31 games. While he's still a work in progress as a runner on many levels, Arians seems to place more value on Barber's improvement to that rather than the tailback's overall inefficiency. With that said, Arians will also have 2018 second-rounder Ronald Jones to utilize in the backfield. It's also possible the team could add a running back in free agency or the draft, so Arians' comments are by no means any sort of confirmation of Barber's role in 2019.
Barber rushed 15 times for 66 yards and brought in his only target for two yards in the Buccaneers' 34-32 loss to the Falcons on Sunday. Barber's solid final game was representative of what he proved capable of this season when he received decent blocking and logged sufficient carries. Having secured the starting job over second-round pick Ronald Jones II coming out of training camp, the third-year pro remained the lead back throughout 2018 and finished with 234 carries for 871 yards (3.7 yards per rush) and five touchdowns while adding 20 receptions (on 29 targets) for 92 yards (4.6 YPC) and another score. Barber was able to post just a single 100-yard game, but he eclipsed 80 yards on three other occasions and never saw more than 19 carries in any contest. Barber has proven a serviceable option thus far, but it certainly wouldn't be surprising to see the Buccaneers dip right back into the running back pool in April's draft, considering the negligible production that Jones offered during his forgettable rookie campaign.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/08||San Francisco 49ers||20||19.00|
|3||09/22||New York Giants||23||19.88|
|4||09/29||@Los Angeles Rams||14||17.26|
|5||10/06||@New Orleans Saints||3||12.44|
|11||11/17||New Orleans Saints||3||12.44|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||132||506||3||14||78||0||73|