The Bucs & Austin Ekeler

March 3rd, 2020

Imagine the drool coming off the chin of Bucco Bruce Arians as he thinks of signing Chargers restricted free agent running back Austin Ekeler.

The man caught 92 balls for 993 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

Arians was adamant at the NFL Scouting Combine last week that he likes young running backs with skilled receiving hands. That’s Ekeler, who is a restricted free agent and the Chargers have yet to decide what tender/salary they will put on him to return to Los Angeles.

If Ekeler gets a second-round tender, for example, (assuming he doesn’t get a long-term deal), then he could negotiate with the Bucs and other teams. If he reached a deal with a new team, the Chargers would have five days to match it, otherwise Ekeler heads to the new cub and they have to cough up a second-round pick as compensation to Los Angeles.

If the Bucs are really in win-now mode, then chasing Ekeler is a hell of a fit. He’s also averaged 4.7 yards per carry over the last two seasons as a complement to Melvin Gordon.

Of course, Joe already can hear the Philip Rivers lovers/Jameis Winston deniers barking for Ekeler because they want Rivers in Tampa.

Ekeler’s got a heck of a story as an undrafted free agent.

The deadline for restricted free agency tenders is March 18 at 4 p.m.

61 Responses to “The Bucs & Austin Ekeler”

  1. Easy Says:

    If you get Ekeler then Rivers is a must sign.

  2. LordCornelius Says:

    2nd round tender is high for a part time RB jesus christ lol. I like this guy but I’d rather just take a shot in the draft on a 4 year cheap contract guy with the upside to be a #1 workhorse do it all back

  3. Bucsfan951 Says:

    Ok sign me up!

  4. Bucsfan951 Says:

    Never mind. I’m not giving up a second rd pick for him.

  5. J dubb Says:

    I just saw that these same chargers are letting Travis benjamin walk. Since perriman priced himself out of Tampa, I would be willing to give him a similar deal like we did with last year’s free agents. A 1 yr deal and he could be our stretch the field receiver. He should come cheap.

  6. Dreghost Says:

    Don’t know if your aware but when Austin was a full time running back he was a top 10 RB in the league, and was putting up crazy fantasy numbers! His production only slowed down when the touches and playing time got cut short because of Gordon coming back. Dangerous receiver out of the back with fast enough speed to break the long run. Definitely worth a second round pick! Buttt i wouldn’t break the bank for him. 6mill a year should do it

  7. J dubb Says:

    And a 2nd for ekeler is too much

  8. J dubb Says:

    I think a 2nd Rd pick is too much for a rotational back, if he was coming to be a workhorse then maybe, but to split reps with Rojo, no thanks

  9. stpetebucsfan Says:

    I understand that first impressions are hard to shake. I also understand that ROJO is not the greatest receiving back in the league but he’s not that horrid either. In fact he catches at a higher % than Gordon or Johnson.

    Last year ROJO was targeted just 40 times…he caught 31 of them for more than 300 yards…12 first downs…but only one bomb at 41 yards. He caught 77.5% of the balls thrown his way which is a very good catch rate for an RB.

    Why do we persist in thinking ROJO can’t catch. His biggest problem is playing on a team with ME…Godwin..Brate..Perriman..and only ONE football.

    I have seen him enough though to agree he cannot block or pick up the blitz. If he masters that during the off season he’ll be able to stay in more frequently on 3rd down and that would result in some more catches for him as well.

  10. SC Bucs Fan Says:

    waiting for the sign him instead of drafting a kicker in the 2nd comments in 3… 2… 1…

  11. Mcruzer Says:

    Nothing I saw out if him last year pointed to him being a rotational back. He dominated.

  12. Shooters Says:

    This would be the best second round pick up Jason’s tenure

  13. Smashsquatch Says:

    I’m all about upgrading our RB room but signing a high priced FA RB isn’t the way to go about it, especially if it costs you draft capital and CAP capital. I’d rather look for a FA who was buried behind RB depth (Jeff Wilson in SF?) and add another through the draft. We also need to do a better job developing backs. Teams who get fooled into paying too much for backs end up handicapping themselves. FA RB signings have to be value purchases, Ekeler doesn’t fit this approach.

  14. Jameis #1 Fan Says:

    Give Rojo the rock…

  15. 813bucboi Says:


    i agree….

    2nd round pick is way too much…..

    gotta use that pick for the trenches….

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  16. Joe in Michigan Says:

    If we get a Checkdown Charlie QB (i.e. Bridgewater) he’ll need a back to dump the ball off to.

  17. RagingBrisket Says:

    Fix the oline first. It’s real basic and constantly dismissed around here. Good football teams that win have strong oline play and run the football effectively. Simple stuff

  18. MTM Says:

    Too much to give up. RB by comity it cost less and they don’t get wore out and they have gas in the tank at playoff time.

  19. Craig Says:

    I would rather see if the Bucs can figure out how to draft a running back. There are too many free agents on the team that need to be signed first. That might come close to breaking the cap number.

  20. Tom Edrington Says:

    Seriously, is anyone supposed to be excited by this proposition?

  21. D-Rome Says:

    What’s interesting to note is that Rivers’ INT percentage was only a 2.06 when Eckler was the primary RB target. His INT percentage jumped significantly up once Melvin Gordon came back. The Chargers were a better team without Gordon.

  22. Allbuccedup Says:

    One problem BA will never overpay for a RB, AE would cost 10 to 12 mil plus a 2nd round pick. That will be too much for anyone, hes not going anywhere.

  23. WhatTheBuc Says:

    The player isn’t available. If the chargers thought anyone would give up a 2 for Eckler they would have placed a 1st round tender on him. Not going to happen.

  24. BucEmUp Says:

    Ronald Jones made some really nice plays last season in limited time playing.With his speed they never even rolled him out but proven to be really dangerous in the passing game. Our rbs are under utilized and predictable in the playcalling. Using a second round pick on a rb would be one of the worst picks possible.Pass Rush and Oline, Corner, Saftey

  25. catcard202 Says:

    Really, Joe???

    I just cannot fathom the FO tossing a 2nd Rd pick for a RFA RB….Secondly, NO WAY the LAC let him get away w/ Gordon out the door… Ekeler is set to be LAC’s RB1 in 2020.

  26. pick6 Says:

    Ekeler was more than part time during Gordon’s holdout….he was pretty much the guy. The bucs haven’t had a guy this dynamic since Warrick Dunn’s prime. Every time i watched a chargers game this guy was turning a swing pass into a huge play.

    better than Melvin Gordon, and the Chargers offense got worse when Gordon returned

  27. Defense Rules Says:

    There you go again Joe … ‘The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’.

    Bucs have RoJo (5’11” & 208 lbs but now closer to 220 lbs) under contract for another 2 years. He gave us 724 yards rushing last season on 172 carries (4.2 YPC) and 309 yards receiving on 49 targets (10.0 YPR and 77.6% catch %). Total – 1,033 yards of offense & 6 TDs on 221 ‘opportunities’.

    Ekeler (5’10” & 200 lbs) is a RESTRICTED FA who’d probably cost us a 2nd Rnd pick AND he only has 1 year left on his original contract. He gave the Chargers 557 yards rushing last season on 132 carries (4.2 YPC) and 993 yards receiving on 108 targets (10.8 YPR and 85.2% catch %). Total – 1,550 yards of offense & 11 TDs on 240 ‘opportunities’.

    Looks to me like RoJo & Ekeler are close to being twins. The Bucs focus isn’t the short passing game that heavily uses the RBs coming out of the backfield, whereas the Chargers apparently did. We’ve got RoJo for 2 more years at least. Why give up a 2nd Rnd pick for another back with a similar skillset who we’d have to sign to a long-term contract in 2021 to keep him?

    Why not just DRAFT a beastly RB in the 2nd Rnd who can COMPLEMENT RoJo as opposed to duplicating him? Hmmm, maybe someone like Swift, Taylor, Moss, or more than likely JK Dobbins. And if we want a REAL BEAST, draft someone like AJ Dillon later in the draft (6′ & 245 lbs). Kid has Fullback written all over him, but he did rush for 1,685 yards & 14 TDs in 2019. Not too shabby for a true power back. He might even know how to pass block, you never know.

  28. Fb Moderated! Says:

    Jameis deniers?!! The only jameis deniers here are America’s joebucsfan who thinks everyone else is an idiot, including the majority of NFL people, but especially his deplorable jameis and manziel hating readers. Also ndog who I believe called everyone a racist for wanting Bridgewater over jameis.

    I guess this is journalism 101 now. I’ll have to head to pointer institute down the road to see if this is the new training for “journalist( cough.. lobbyists) these days.

    Great article otherwise, but leave the jameis hater bashing out for one post please

  29. westernbuc Says:

    Over compensating for a running back? No lol

  30. AlteredEgo Say: Your comment is awaiting moderation. Says:

    Cam Akers

  31. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Here are some CBA details:

    • 47% of AR in 2020, plus ~$100M in new Player Costs above current CBA for 2020
    • Guaranteed 48% share of revenue in 2021,with ability to increase the percentage to 48.5% share through a media kicker which applies in any season the league plays 17 game so Projected increase of ~$5 billion to players during course of a new 10-year deal

    – $100Kincrease in 2020 for Rookie Minimums, another $50K increase in 2021 and then $45K increase each year after
    – At least $90Kincrease in 2020 for other minimum salaried players; $80K to $105K increase in 2021 and then $45K increase each year after
    – Right to use Rookie Distribution pool to provide additional payments to players at minimum salaries to keep minimum salaries in-line with cap growth

    • Increase in minimum salary benefit
    • Creation of new 4-year player benefit: up to an additional $1.25M in salary excluded from the cap for up to 2 players
    • Bonus payment of 1/17 of his paragraph 5 salary up to $250K to any player whose contract runs through a season when 17 games is played
    • Additional cap room per clubin 2021 if 17 games is implemented and media kicker does not reach 48.5%
    • Performance Based Pay increased to $8.5M in 2020 and $10Min 2021, with annual increases thereafter
    • Increase average Minimum Team Cash Spending to 90% over tranches of 3-3-4 year periods
    • $100K increase for ROFR Original Round Tender; $250Kincrease for first and second round Tenders for Restricted Free Agents
    • Raises for Practice Squad Players to $10.5Kper week; total number of 12 players increasing to 14 players, with two unlimited Accrued Seasons players
    • Guaranteed Funding Rule increase to $15M per club in 2020 and to $17M in 2029
    • 5th Year Options fully guaranteed for 4th and 5th years at the time option is exercised; Amount of Option dependent on player achievement and no longer based on which slot selected in first round
    • Increase in pay for all off season activities
    • Proven Performance Escalators for2nd-round picks; Super Escalator for rounds 2-7 in 4th year
    • Gambling definitions that ensures money is included in players’ definition of All Revenue, including portions of non-football activities

    HOURS — Training Camp
    • Introduction of 5-day acclimation period
    • 2.5-hour limit on padded and full speed practices
    • Limit time at facility during a given work day
    • Limit of 16days in pad so No more than 3 consecutive days for 3 out of the 5 week so No more than 2 consecutive days for 2 out of 5 weeks
    • 3-day weekend at end of camp if 17 games is implemented
    • 2 days off in the first week, one day every 7 thereafter
    • Limit of 4 Joint Practices if 3 preseason games

    • Mandated improvements to visiting team locker rooms
    • Establish standards for rehabilitation facilities, training rooms and equipment for each club
    • Active squad increased by one offensive lineman
    • Development of improved safety metrics for fields


    Active Players
    • Pension increase of 10%
    • 401Kmatching contribution increased to $30K, annual increases thereafter
    • Annuity increased to $110K per year; increasing by $15K every other year
    • Tuition reimbursement–increases for active and former players
    • Life Insurance
    • HRA increased to $35K with increases thereafter of to $50K per season, with overall limit increasing from $350K to $450K
    • Adding vision coverage to healthcare plan
    • Injury Protection of 100% of salary up to $2.0M and Extended Injury Protection of 100% of salary up to $1.0M
    • Termination Pay –Increase in mid-season signing benefit to 35% of remaining salary or 2 weeks salary at the applicable minimum salary amount; right to collect a second time in some instances
    • Practice Squad players eligible for $5K of tuition benefits/year and 401K with $1500 match

    Former Players
    • Retroactive increase to $550 per month for all pre-2012 vested players
    • Expand pension eligibility to all former players with three credited seasons
    • Establish a $50,000 HRA for vested veterans with no HRA
    • Creation of new network of hospitals in each team city for former players to receive no cost physicals, preventative care, mental health counseling, and out-patient orthopedic services. Coverage of common surgeries to be phased in during course of deal.

    • Clear parameters for ownership and usage of player data from sensors
    • Overall reduction in on-field fines
    • Reduction in club fines
    • Implementation of a neutral decision-maker for most Commissioner Discipline cases

    • Changes to Drug Policy
    – Narrows the testing window of THC from four months to two weeks at the start of training camp
    – Reduces the penalties to players who test positive for THC, eliminating any game suspensions strictly for positive tests
    – Reduces the number of players subjected to testing for THC
    – Increases the nanogram limit from 35 to 150

    • Right to be paid over a 34-week pay period vs. 17 weeks
    • New workers compprocess to enable easier filing for players, making injury care more accessible

  32. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    There are a couple things not mentioned…but that’s what I was able to track down.

  33. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    The drool isn’t coming from BA….it’s coming from Joe…..

    Why give up a 2nd round pick for him when you can just draft a RB in round 2?……a cheaper contract and many more choices…..

    Enough of these FAs……..draft our own players and pay our own FAs…..all is well.

  34. catcard202 Says:

    After seeing the combine & taking another dive into tape….I’d seriously hope the FO pulls another Trade-Down scenario off on the drafts opening night to collect more day 2/3 picks & turn those extra picks into luxury pick combo package draft of BC RB AJ Dillion for the power back compliment to RoJo & UK ATH Lynn Bowden for the Slash-Back role.

    “Sauce” tested out like slightly better version of Derrick Henry & his tape shows a well rounded workhorse w/ the mass to deliver blows & gash defenses…With enough speed to get on the second level & break off long runs…As well as a thumping punch in pass protect.

    Bowden is an Offensive Weapon…A multidimensional chess piece that can be moved all over the board…Slot to RB to Wildcat QB to PR-KR – all seamlessly & at a high level. (Antonio Gibson – MEM is a good secondary comp to Bowden. Probably a tick better 40 – Bowden has him on field vision & agility….But both will be play-makers in the league.)

  35. Taylor Says:

    Rather take Jonathan Taylor 2nd round if he is still available or we can trade up a few. Looks like he could fall near us in the 40 range.

  36. geno711 Says:

    I am with Joe on this one.

    I would take Ekeler for our 2nd rounder. As long as the rest of the 4 year contract was favorable to the Buc’s. Does not make sense if you are paying him 6 million per year. But average salary of 4 million a year, I would be fine with.

  37. AlteredEgo Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation. Says:

    Joe ,well one of them, is the Daniel Snyder of NFL team bloggers

  38. Robert Says:

    Can he trow the ball?

    How are his eyes?

  39. Robert Says:


  40. PSL Bob Says:

    Been preaching a RB with the 2nd pick in the draft. If a proven quantity is available in FA and you have to give up your #2 draft pick, I guess I’d be good with it. However, there may be a better and CHEAPER option in the draft. So it’s a crap shoot, as the FA pick has to be made in advance of the draft. A lot of moving pieces to consider.

  41. BucEmUp Says:

    Thank you for posting that about the abs Defense….common sense is not so common anymore

  42. Bucs Fan Since ‘76 Says:

    Draft Jonathon Taylor if he’s available at 14. 230lbs, great hands, and 4.39 speed. It sure seems to me like he would help Jameis enormously, particularly in the play action game. We have to upgrade the running game and we cannot rely on Licht to pick a RB in the later rounds.

  43. Dewey Selmon Says:

    If you want a RB trade back, if you want a DT stay put if you have a chance of Kinlaw and Vea for the next 10 years?

  44. Adrnagy Says:

    Bring back Jacquizz Rodgers.

  45. Fb Moderated! Says:

    I seem to be on the no post moderated list. Auto moderation and no arguing with the official Winston take here. He is the all time greatest bud qb ever.

  46. Defense Rules Says:

    Dewey … If the Bucs don’t fix the OLine, who we have for RBs won’t matter all that much. Bucs NEED a RT to replace Dotson … that’s the starting point. Bucs have almost no DEPTH … we NEED to fix that because injuries do happen to even the big fellas it turns out. ASSUMING that we can re-sign our Big-4, OLine would logically be a higher priority than DLine. Different story potentially if we can’t re-sign Shaq, JPP or Suh especially (depends on what else happens in free agency I would think).

    IMO the first 2 Rnds are critical (SHOULD be starters), and the 3rd Rnd is almost as important (SHOULD be a key rotational player). Anything after that is gravy far as I’m concerned. As of this moment, my priorities would be (1) OLine; (2) RB; (3) DLine. Not a big fan of drafting a QB OUTSIDE of the 1st Rnd (NFL history of them becoming starters is not all that great). Again though, what happens in free agency will more than likely drive the train there.

  47. stevbobucfan Says:

    another question for you Joe why in the hell would the Bucs want to sign Rivers. what has Rivers done the past 3 or 4 years in SD, and why would SD just cut him lose 2. is there any chance Brady would sign with the Bucs. my reason for asking is, the Bucs has a top of the league receiving core, now looks like a damn good defense and an ok set of running backs. this look like a sure deep playoff team if Brady was signed by the Bucs. Not a fix for the next 6 or 7 years but for sure the next 2 years

  48. JimmyJack Says:

    I laughed my butt off hearing Joe say he could hear fans crying for Eckler/Rivers……then I read the first comment hahahaha.

  49. JimmyJack Says:

    St Pete we have to insist RoJo can’t catch because he can’t……….When the team is choosing to use Dare over you as a pass catcher that’s about the only stat you need to look at.

    Right now our best pass catcher from the backfield is Dare. If you don’t think we can upgrade in that spot you are off your rocker.

  50. Adrnagy Says:

    Is that a sign the jameis knows he’s coming back talking to Evans?

  51. DaBux Says:

    Ekeler is a stud. He’s a perfect fit for the Arians attack.

  52. Pick6King Says:

    I’d make that deal in a heartbeat. A second round pick doesn’t matter at this point. We need to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield. This guy solves that problem quite nicely. Get it done! Go Bucs!!!

  53. Jameis #1 Fan Says:

    Yes Jameis will be back because that’s the Only thing that makes since to WIN NOW.
    He has the support of his friend ME13 who is the best WR this team has ever had.
    Jameis will bet on himself with a short term contract. Arians is only here for a couple more years, so if it doesn’t work Arians Jason Light, Mike Evan’s and Jameis leave together….

  54. Buczilla Says:

    I’d love to get this dude, but a second round pick is way too steep. Plus, he will want to get paid more than what any rookie that we could draft in the second round would make. Pass, unless it’s for a 4th round pick or trading someone like Howard or Brate.

  55. BucEmUp Says:

    Jimmy Jack dare was put in on 3rd downs because he was the “best blocker” not because he was a better pass carcher.Did really well when guven the chance to catch the ball and had some.huge gains called back.on the best back.on the team

  56. SB Says:

    He has the support of his friend ME13 who is the best WR this team has ever had.


    Not sure Godwin isn’t the best. Time will tell.

  57. stpetebucsfan Says:


    Google is your friend. Simply look up career stats. You’ll see that last year Ogunbawale was targeted almost the exact same number of times as ROJO.

    46 to DO 40 to ROJO. ROJO more yards…more first downs…and a longest of 41 yards compared to DO’s 21. ROJO 77.5% DO 76.1%

    Both of those reception rates are higher than Joe’s faves like Johnson or Gordon.

    DO is a far better blocker and has at least some limited ability at picking up the blitz…that’s why he’s in the game on 3rd down not because he’s a better pass receiver…because he isn’t…again google is your friend.

  58. JimmyJack Says:

    Well I happen to think Dare is a better pass catcher with better natural abilty(striclty as pass catcher) but that’s just me.

    Fair if you disagree but I think the fact that we could even argue about which is the better pass catcher is pretty revealing that we can for sure upgrade that area.

    And yeah RoJo wins the stats. Dare wins the targets…….But I do think it’s a big deal how they did their work. Dare got most of his catches in obvisous passing situations. A little harder to work when you are being accounted for and seeing tougher coverages in those situations. RoJo was used in situations where he saw a lot more open looks and didn’t have to beat much coverage or make much dirty plays across the middle……….You put RoJo in Dares pass situations and I don’t think he fares as well.

    That said I do agree with BucEmUp. RoJo is the best back on the team. Just not much at receiving IMO.

  59. Jameis #1 Fan Says:

    ME13 is the best WR this team has ever had. He has put up 1000 plus yards EVERY season since being drafted. Only he and Randy Moss know what that’s like. Godwin is awesome, but he has a long way to go to fill ME13 shoes.

  60. Rod Munch Says:

    For once the Joe’s have the right running back for the team. This would be a perfect fit – he’s a guy who can catch the ball, really really well – in addition to making plays. Also he can spilt early down carries with Ronnie. I’d totally be for this RB addition as it fills a huge need, and Ekeler is a guy who produced over and over again regardless of the situation. Love it.

    It’s not going to happen.

    But I love the idea.

  61. TOM Says:

    Losing a 2nd rd. pick is no big deal. Licht screws it up anyway.