The Bucs & Duke Johnson

March 1st, 2021

Fans remember when Bucco Bruce Arians put his foot down two years ago during an appearance on The Ira Kaufman Podcast.

“I don’t overpay for that position,” Arians firmly declared, when asked about signing a name running back in free agency.

For context, Arians had said there’s not “a David Johnson or a Todd Gurley” in the Bucs’ 2019 backfield “but you don’t need one.”

Joe suggested to Arians that he could buy one, and then Arians made his “I-don’t-overpay” comment.

It’s why Joe is confident the Bucs won’t pay Leonard “Playoff Lenny” Fournette the $5 million or $6 million salary it likely will take to retain him.

So who will replace Fournette? Bucs fans love to toss the name James White out there. He played with Tom Brady in New England. But there are other options.

First, there’s Gurley and David Johnson, the guys Arians named. Gurley, still just 26 years old, is a free agent. He may be well on his way to being washed up, but he only missed two games over the past two seasons and had nine touchdowns for Atlanta last year. Joe can’t speak for Arians. Perhaps he sees Gurley as a fit in the Bucs’ offense?

Johnson, 29, was drafted by Arians in Arizona and revived his career last season in Houston. Various reports last week claimed Houston wants to keep him, and that’s why the Texans apparently just cut 27-year-old versatile RB Duke Johnson.

Johnson is known for making tacklers miss, lining up in various receiver positions, pass blocking, and he’s got a career rushing average of 4.2 yards per carry. Through six seasons, Johnson has proven to be a consistent and dangerous target out of the backfield.

Joe loves the relatively low mileage on Johnson, and assuming his late-season neck injury is healed, Joe could see Johnson as a potentially great fit in Tampa. Joe does know the Bucs were interested in him two years ago.

25 Responses to “The Bucs & Duke Johnson”

  1. Robert Says:

    If we can get someone cheaper and adds as much positives as our current roster …do it.

    that goes for all positions… *cough* Shaq.

  2. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    The Bucs and
    The Bucs and
    The Bucs and
    The Bucs and

    How about lets see who the Bucs are minus…..before we go to the “and”

  3. doolnutts Says:

    I think what is not being talked about is Fournette & Rojo are very similar in their style of play. Both cannot catch to save their life. The difference is Rojo is on a rookie deal. So that alone makes me think it is very unlikely Fournette comes back. We need an RB with some hands. And before people jump up and down for Voughn he’s undoubtedly in the dog house since that bad fumble. Maybe he improves maybe not but with Tom Brady we are not likely to sit here and hope he does. White, Duke Johnson, David Johnson any of these guys would be a great 3rd down back option.

  4. Adrnagy Says:

    I’ll pass on duke.
    I want to see Vaughn more. Brady coach will get him ready. Maybe we need a pound the rock guy like adrian Peterson , fournette.

    Instead of duke. I’ll be on rb white from patriots.

  5. Adrnagy Says:

    Hey Joey … instead of duke or shaq, why not Noah Spence ?

  6. bucfanforever Says:

    Hopefully, we can find a running back that can consistently catch the dump off. And then not fumble it when hit.

    I’ll have PTSD from the dump off pass from this season, it was like watching the kicking game from previous years.

  7. Durango 95 Says:

    I would not be adverse to the idea of drafting a RB in the first round if they felt the right guy was there. Heaven knows drafting a RB in the first round is often seen as heresy in these parts. But with the talent already on this roster it’s a “luxury” that they can afford.

  8. Swampbuc Says:

    I’d rather keep developing Vaughn and Rojo, plus Duke has lost it. There’s a reason the lowly Texans cut him.

  9. Ben green Says:

    Draft someone, good backs are a dime a dozen in the 3rd or 4th round. James white has been beat into the ground. They’ve lightened his load somewhat in the last 2 years but he’s basically toast. Go name me the running backs on all 6 superbowl with NE without looking it up. Hard huh. They don’t matter, give me a good line and I’ll find someone who can run forward. Besides that name me the last big money back to win the Superbowl. They don’t, 3 key reasons for this. First they eat cap space. 2. They essentially have a 4-5 year shelf life. So by the time the back gets paid he’s past his prime and a par player is eating up your cap. 3. Stats are for losers. Fantasy drives more than you think. Most often when a back has great numbers, he’s running behind a massive line (emmitt) now they’re always a few exceptions (barry, walter, dickerson) but please don’t ever pay a back

  10. Jason Says:

    Duke Johnson. I’ve heard that name before. We should sign him. Lol.

  11. Mike Says:

    I’ve been wanting Duke Johnson for years in Tampa. Dude is a major threat as a receiver out of the backfield. He would be an awesome fit with Brady and a bigtime mismatch in the passing game.

  12. Defense Rules Says:

    Durango 95 … “I would not be adverse to the idea of drafting a RB in the first round if they felt the right guy was there. Heaven knows drafting a RB in the first round is often seen as heresy in these parts. But with the talent already on this roster it’s a “luxury” that they can afford.”

    It’s considered ‘heresy’ Durango because RBs seem to be much easier to develop than say QBs, DEs, OLBs or CBs as examples. With our #32 pick this year, I’d be looking for the best DE, DT or OLB still on the table. That 1st Rnd pick is precious IMO.

    I still remember the 2017 draft when the Bucs picked OJ Howard at #19. Later in that round, the Steelers picked DE TJ Watt & the Saints grabbed Ryan Ramczyk. RBs Fournette & McCaffrey both went high in the 1st Rnd that year, but another RB named Dalvin Cook lasted until the 2nd Rnd. Strange draft, but honestly who would you rather have right now: OJ, All-Pro DE TJ Watt (with his 49.5 sacks in 4 yrs) or All-Pro T Ryan Ramcyzk? Or should we have drafted Dalvin Cook?

  13. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:


  14. BucsFanSince1976 Says:

    James White is the only RB signing that makes sense. White has great hands as a pass catcher and Brady implicitly trusts him and they can read each other perfectly. Any other signing would be a mistake.

  15. Rod Munch Says:

    Duke Johnson is exactly the type of RB the team needs, a pass catching specialist. Now, if he’s washed up or not, I don’t know since it’s not exactly like the Texans were getting a lot of air time last season, but people dismissing this out of hand literally don’t know what they’re talking about. Also, and importantly, he should be cheap.

    James White is still the better option since he’s played more and is familiar with Brady already, and you must assume he’s a good pass blocker or he wouldn’t have played that much, but if the Bucs can’t afford White, then Duke would be a good backup option.

  16. Durango 95 Says:

    @Defense Rules

    Lol Oh please That’s not an argument. How many years shall we go back and play re-draft w/ the benefit of hindsight. I doubt JBF would appreciate using so much of their bandwidth on a pretzel logic hypothetical.

  17. 813bucboi Says:

    develop vaugh…rojo has to step up…he’ll be the guy….

    GO BUCS!!!!

  18. Marine Buc Says:

    Meh… there are better options available.

  19. Defense Rules Says:

    Durango 95 … Perhaps this will help. T-h-e 1-s-t R-o-u-n-d P-i-c-k I-s P-r-e-c-i-o-u-s. Bucs picked OJ that particular year because they felt he was the best player available, not because that was our greatest need (I still remember how no one could believe that 18 other teams had already passed on him).

    Perhaps we should’ve been ‘building the trenches’ by picking TJ Watt or Ryan Ramczyk instead? Notice how we’ve used our 1st Rnd picks since then? Vea (trenches), White (pretty good at exploiting ‘trench warfare’ himself), Wirfs (trenches).

  20. Durango 95 Says:

    @Defense Rules

    Jason Licht used the term “luxury pick” when referring to the teams first round pick this year. Go argue w/ him, but try to go easy on the hyphens, kind of makes you look foolish.

  21. DaBux Says:

    David Johnson is a luxury to Houston, they can’t afford to keep him. So Duke and David Johnson would make sense. James White is better suited to replace Shady as he’s already one of TB12’s favorite receivers.

  22. DRFEELGOOD Says:

    If Najee Harris falls to #32, you have your bellcow for the next 5 years. He CAN catch out of the backfield and is a beast!! He and Rojo would be an unstoppable combo!! And I never advocate picking a RB high.

  23. David Webb Says:

    I think James White might be a better immediate fit, but Duke is a tough runner and would be a good addition.

  24. Jmarkbuc Says:


    No way you use a 1 on a RB . Give me OL or DL before that. Hate to say it but RB’s can be cast offs from a team at the last minute and end up being playoff superstars… no need to waste a premium pick… kinda like kickers.

  25. BucEmUp Says:

    This would be one of my favorite signings of the offseason if it happened.