Peyton Barber should end up with a roster spot with the Buccaneers, but he's in for a fight for the lead role with rookie Ronald Jones. Given a chance to play more toward the end of last season, Barber finished with three games with at least 12 Fantasy points in his final six. Touchdowns helped him out in two of those games, and because he's more bruiser than cruiser, he's probably going to need lots of those to succeed in 2018. That seems unlikely given the Bucs' addition of Jones. Be prepared to see Barber as a late-round pick.
Despite the Bucs utilizing a second-round selection on Ronald Jones II, Barber's diverse skill set is projected to afford him a consistent role in the coming season, Scott Smith of the team's official site reports. "I think he has a high ceiling," said Buccaneers running backs coach Tim Spencer. "Peyton can catch the ball and he can run routes even though he is a good-sized back. I like the way he runs, I like his attitude, I like the way he's learning and being able to pick up things." An undrafted free agent in 2016, Barber ultimately took the lead-back role from the since-departed Doug Martin for the last five games of 2017. The former Auburn Tiger compiled 335 rushing yards at a clip of 4.3 yards per tote during that span, making sharper cuts and breaking more tackles than he had during his 55-carry rookie campaign. The addition of Jones II naturally gives Barber serious competition for carries, but Smith reports that the most likely scenario is the two players splitting the workload fairly evenly to open 2018. There's also the possibility that coach Dirk Koetter devises some custom packages that puts both backs on the field at the same time, although Barber figures to get the call more often than not in short-yardage situations -- including goal-line scenarios -- due to the tackle-breaking prowess his 225-230-pound frame affords him.
Barber figures to face stiff competition from 2018 second-round pick Ronald Jones II, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports. Barber was the Bucs' top backfield option by the end of last season, arguably by default. He was undeniably serviceable -- albeit unspectacular -- over his five games as the lead back, compiling 335 yards at a solid clip of 4.3 yards per carry. Big plays, one of the primary assets that Jones brings to the table, were almost completely absent from Barber's repertoire, as he logged just one run of 20 or more yards all season. In contrast, Jones posted at least one run of 40-plus yards in 12 of 40 college games, per Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. Barber also did little of note through the air (16 receptions on 19 targets), whereas Jones at least offers theoretical upside in that area, though he only caught 32 passes in three seasons at USC. While Jones' slight frame (5-foot-11, 205 pounds) might prove somewhat of a challenge for him at the next level, Barber could see his workload increasingly shift to short-yardage situations as the rookie acclimates to the NFL. The Bucs figure to let this battle play out throughout mini-camps, training camp and the preseason, while Jacquizz Rodgers and Charles Sims figure to compete for work in passing situations.
Barber, an exclusive rights free agent, agreed to a one-year, $630,000 contract with the Buccaneers, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The deal is merely a formality, as Barber won't have a shot to sign elsewhere until 2019, when he'll be a restricted free agent. He currently sits atop the depth chart at running back, but it won't come as any surprise if the Bucs land an upgrade in free agency or the draft. Doug Martin was released in February, while Charles Sims is set to become an unrestricted free agent Wednesday. Barber impressively closed out last season with five straight weeks recording at least 51 rushing yards and 3.9 yards per carry. He was undrafted coming out of Auburn in 2016.
Barber is one of the Buccaneers' top internal options to replace Doug Martin, who was released Tuesday, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports. The 23-year-old Barber is technically an exclusive-rights free agent this offseason, but it's fully expected he'll be retained in 2018. Barber established career bests across the stat sheet in his second season and already displaced Martin as the top backfield option for the final five games. Despite poor blocking in front on him, Barber often proved adept at finding space while Martin failed to do so, demonstrating the power and efficiency befitting of a lead back by averaging between 4.1 and 4.8 yards per carry in five of the seven games in which he logged double-digit totes. Having incurred low mileage over his first pair of pro seasons, Barber will be poised to challenge for the role of No. 1 back alongside Jacquizz Rodgers and potential additions via the draft or free agency.
Barber rushed 13 times for 51 yards and brought in both of his targets for four yards in Sunday's 22-19 loss to the Panthers. Barber once again helmed the Buccaneers backfield, despite the fact that Doug Martin was back in uniform after being made a healthy scratch Week 15. The second-year running back ran with his trademark decisiveness, but Tampa was in catch-up mode in the second half, capping his opportunities overall. Given the disparity of performance between Barber and Martin, the former appears headed for another starting assignment in the regular-season finale versus the Saints next Sunday.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/09||@New Orleans Saints||12||17.22|
|11||11/18||@New York Giants||21||17.88|
|12||11/25||San Francisco 49ers||19||17.75|
|14||12/09||New Orleans Saints||12||17.22|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||82||323||2||10||71||0||51|