Bargain Backs

April 30th, 2020

Colts RB Marlon Mack.

When a draft is completed, there is often an opportunity to get good value on unwanted veterans.

Joe has always maintained for the Bucs to properly repair the running game, they needed to draft a running back and sign a veteran.

The Bucs drafted a running back (no, neither J.K. Dobbins nor Cam Akers) but they did draft one. Time will tell if he is the answer.

Former Falcons Pro Bowler Devonta Freeman is out there and he can both run and catch. Joe’s not sure the Bucs can get him at a steep discount. Freeman had the worst yards-per-carry of his career last year. But Joe isn’t sure if that is because he was playing in Dirk Koetter’s offense.

Reading an article typed by Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz of USA Today writes about veterans on watch notice as a result of teams drafting at their positions. Two running backs are listed: Detroit’s Kerryon Johnson and Indianapolis’ Marlon Mack.

Johnson last year had poor numbers, largely because he battled a knee injury.

It was quite telling that embattled GM Bob Quinn, facing a mandate to field a playoff contender next season, used a second-round pick on Georgia running back D’Andre Swift. Johnson has shown promise in bursts, but the 2018 second-round pick has missed 14 games in his first two NFL seasons with injuries to both of his knees. Quinn said the two backs would complement each other, but Swift is the more dynamic option and seems poised for more opportunities, even if coach Matt Patricia continues his trend of enlisting a committee approach.

We will see if the Lions dump him. He could come cheap.

Then there is Mack in Indianapolis. The Colts drafted Jonathan Taylor and it seems both backs are mirror images of each other.

A lucrative second contract remains elusive for all but an elite few of ball carriers in the NFL. After rushing for 1,999 yards and 17 touchdowns the last two seasons for Indianapolis, Mack is essentially an afterthought in light of second-round running back Jonathan Taylor’s arrival. Given that neither player is particularly strong as a receiver, it will be hard for the two to work in concert with one another, which likely leaves Mack as the odd man out entering the final year of his deal.

To add intrigue to Mack possibly being on the trade block, remember the Bucs had a private workout with Mack, the former South Florida star. They were quite interested in him before the 2017 NFL Draft.

But would the Bucs outright dismiss a back who could help them because he’s not efficient at catching the ball?

Let’s say the Bucs wanted to toss a throwaway pick to either Indianapolis or Detroit for one of these two, say a sixth-round pick. The Bucs would be getting a back on his rookie contract so he would be easier to fit under the cap.

33 Responses to “Bargain Backs”

  1. ncbucsfan Says:

    Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor are nothing alike as RBs and Mack certainly can catch the ball! That part is just a bad take all around.

  2. Buccan8 Says:

    Oh Joe—you never know when PTSD will strike! I read the term “throwaway pick” and couldn’t shake the fetal-position memories of the last five years, pleading with America’s Backup QB (that was very clever, by the way!) to choose the former, but seeing my pleas answered with the latter!

  3. Buczilla Says:

    I’d pass on Johnson due to all the time that he has missed because of injuries, but I’d give up a 5th or 6th for Mack in a heartbeat. I’d love to get Freeman too if we can afford him. Licht doesn’t seem to care about having a quality running back or depth at the the running back position, so it’s all just wishful thinking imo. I’m mortified about our running back situation, but maybe I’m fussing over nothing…

  4. geno711 Says:

    “It’s a long season, it’s a grind, and when you run the ball as much as we run it, it’s really good to be able to change that up,” Reich said, speaking on Mack and Taylor. “I think their styles will complement each other very well. Marlon has that great vision, he can run that outside zone well, he can surge, surge, surge and then he can accelerate in the hole.
    “Then you have a guy like Jonathan … Jonathan Taylor is an explosive player. That size (5-11, 219) and 4.3 speed — we want to turn those 10-yard gains into 50- and 60-yard gains. Now both he and Marlon can add that element to our offense.”

    Based upon this I do not see Mack available.

  5. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Let’s say the Bucs wanted to toss a throwaway pick to either Indianapolis or Detroit for one of these two, say a sixth-round pick.

    FYI Tom Brady was a ‘throwaway” 6th round pick……

  6. Bird Says:


    What day do players have to be let go by so contract does not count against cap or has that day come and gone

    kerryon drafted higher but his deal seems front loaded so :
    Kerryon is 1,071,245 against cap this year

    Marlon mack drafted lower but his is highest amount paid this year so:
    Marlon is 2,133,000

    Regardless both are probably gone unless injuries and could be had for cheap

  7. Hodad Says:

    Hey Joe, we just drafted two running backs. Lets give them a chance. Calalis could be a faster Freeman, and Vauhn had back to back 1000 yd seasons in the SEC, that ain’t easy. Then there’s Rojo, Dare, Logan. The Bucs aren’t bringing in anymore backs, let alone trade for any.

  8. Carl Nicks' big toe Says:

    If we could get Marlon Mack for a 5th, I’d feel much better about our rushing attack this year. He’d instantly be RB1 IMO. Everyone else would be battling for backup duty.

  9. BringBucsBack Says:

    Good organizations find room for good players.

  10. Allbuccedup Says:

    I keep saying trade Brate for Jamal Williams. Green Bay has three running backs and Williams is third in the depth chart. Rodgers needs another receiver and the bucs need a player that can catch the ball out of the backfield. The bucs would also gain 2.1 mil in cap space. A win for everyone.

  11. Defense Rules Says:

    Indy rushed on 46% of their plays last year (471 rushes for 2130 yds). Marion Mack was their workhorse (247 rushes for 1091 yds, averaging 4.4 YPC, with 8 TDs rushing plus he caught 14 of 17 targets for another 82 yds). None of their other RBs really stand out (all 3 shared 152 carries almost equally for a total of 741 yds plus QB Brissett added another 228 yds). None of their receivers stand out either, with 2 WRs getting 140 targets between them & 2 TEs getting another 124 targets between them.

    Despite signing Phillip Rivers as their QB and drafting Michael Pittman Jr as the Rnd 1 pick this year, Colts will probably continue to emphasize the run this year, especially with Rnd 2 pick Jonathan Taylor now onboard. Their OLine remains 100% intact BTW.

    Can’t see Marion Mack going anyplace this year (his 4th year). However, got a hunch he’ll be a FA after 2020. There’ll be quite a few other RBs available though Joe, although you never know, Dare may turn out to be Brady’s favorite (fairly good as a receiver, and was our best blocking back last year).

  12. BridleOaksBuc Says:


  13. SC Bucs Fan Says:

    I don’t think the Colts signed ancient Rivers to let Taylor protect him full time

  14. TheBradyBunch Says:

    Tampabaybucfan – one downside of getting Brady is that we get to always hear that he was a 6th round draft pick. Brady is an anomaly of epic proportions. I just went and double check our 6th rounder over the past 20 years. Not one was a key contributor and only a handful ever played anything other than special teams. A 6th rounder is most definitely a throw away pick.

  15. Rayjay1122 Says:

    Marlon Mack would be a nice upgrade however, with the much improved talent on the right side of the OL that the current RB’s on the roster will enjoy much improved rushing lanes and yards per carry.

  16. AwShbucs Says:

    If Devonta Freeman having his worst ypc under Dirk Koetter isnt definitive prove that the man is running back kryptonite when left to his own devices, then I dont know what is.

    2015. Lovie gave Koetter a mandate. “You must run the ball, and you must run it a lot.” That year Doug Martin and Charles Sims combined for well over 2500 yards from scrimmage.

    2016-2018. Koetter is in full control off the offense. Not only does Doug Martin’s production fall off a cliff due to popping jollies, Charles Sims busts out. And the promising rookie from USC averaged 1.9 ypc and is one of worst rookies in football.

    2019. Koetter returns to ATL where Dan Quinn promptly hands him the keys to the offense. And now Freeman, who had previously struggled to see the field under Dirk as a rookie, but had been a productive starter in his absence, has a terrible year and is now out of a job..

    Dirk sucks. He ruined Jameis and he ruined this team for 3 years.

  17. Joe Says:


    Monday of first week of the season.

  18. Joe Says:

    FYI Tom Brady was a ‘throwaway” 6th round pick……

    Why do people think an accident is a norm, or to be expected?

    Yeah, once a lifetime player is taken in the sixth round. So all GMs should bank on a savior in the sixth round.

    GMs who think that way wind up working in sports radio.

    (Pardon Joe, he’s going to be out of touch for a few hours. He’s going to a yard sale hoping some old lady is selling Apple stock certificates because she thinks they are something Publix handed out to produce managers back in the day. Joe can then retire and buy his pad in the Bahamas!)

  19. ToesOnTheLine!!! Says:

    I guess I don’t see RB as huge a problem as a lot of you? Run blocking should be better this year, the QB play should improve, and let’s not forget RoJo was hitting his stride last season (he should only continue to get better). They drafted a RB in round 3 to compliment RoJo, and they used a 7th round pick to add some speed and competition at RB 3/4. I still think adding a vet who is a good pass catcher/blocker to a cap friendly 1-year deal is wise move. I’ll take Lamar Miller if he’s interested and the price is right. At 29 and coming off injury he likely understands what his role on a team will be. He can be a good 3rd down back or still carry a bigger load of carries if the injury bug bites the Bucs younger RB’s.

  20. Cobraboy Says:

    I thought pass-catching was a job requirement.

  21. K2 Says:

    Mack will stay with the Colts another year.

  22. Bucamania Says:

    Devonta Freeman makes a ton of sense.

  23. Casual Observer Says:

    Toes – Lamar Miller sounds like a good suggestion. If he is healthy and available. Worth a look, surely.

  24. NC Bucs Fan Says:

    I like the thought of Freeman… but think that trading Brate and a pick for Fournette would be better… We don’t need that many TE’s and the Jags are tanking…..

  25. Swampbuc Says:

    Devonta Freeman is done, so no way he comes to the Bucs.

    Kerryon Johnson, all day I would take him, provided he passes a physical and tests on the knee prove it’s 100% rehabbed. But I’m thinking the Bucs have their RBs they’re going to count on already. I would prefer Kerryon Johnson to Ogunbawahle, but the Bucs obviously like him especially for what he costs.

  26. Go Bucs 72 Says:

    Johnson is proven to be injury prone, a running back with two bad knees? Pass.

  27. TOM Says:

    I myself would rather have Carlos Hyde for a late rd. pick.

  28. Jeebs the Honey Bear Says:

    We should be able to get a cheap RB off of FA with so many still available. Freeman is the most proven, followed by Hyde, but DeAndre Washington is the guy that interests me the most. He filled in very well for Josh Jacobs when he misses time last year, and he can catch the ball. I really think RoJo will make the big leap this year, and I would like to see how Vaughn does spelling him. But adding Washington as a depth piece (or if Vaughn doesn’t perform well) would be a very solid move.

  29. Jeebs the Honey Bear Says:

    Okay sorry, have to amend my post, looks like the Chiefs signed Washington. Man do they have a deep backfield.

    I would still try and scoop someone on the cheap: Freeman, Hyde, Miller, Shady McCoy, Chris Thompson…. One of those guys would fill out the depth just fine.

  30. permanent_moderation_doghouse Says:

    Rojo’s numbers were pretty good last year. Decent YPC (4.2) and excellent YPR (>10) plus 6 TDs projects out pretty well with more use. Vaughn should be a productive guy as well. Plus there’s a chance that Calais could be an explosive situational option. We could be looking at a good group this year, so I’m not sure we need to feel urgency for another runner… Of course, if you could get Marlon Mack for a 5th or 6th round pick, well, you’d have to jump on it.

  31. BrooksvilleDWB2019 Says:

    Yep – those throw away picks such as 6th round TB12

  32. Isaac haggins Says:

    Bucs back has to catch

  33. Durango 95 Says:

    I’m curios as to what Carlos Hyde might be able accomplish here. Though he may be out of the budget?