The Dallas Cowboys released Ezekiel Elliott ahead of free agency, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have emerged as a potential landing spot.
Despite how bleak things appeared heading into things, it’s been a decidedly not terrible offseason so far for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The team came out of absolutely nowhere to re-sign star cornerback Jamel Dean, a move that it chased by bringing back Lavonte David as well. Add to that the signing of Baker Mayfield to compete with Kyle Trask for the starting quarterback spot and all of a sudden an offseason that was supposed be quiet has been both loud and efficient for the Bucs.
It appears the team isn’t done yet.
Ezekiel Elliott was cut by the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday ahead of free agency officially beginning, putting a notable name and a top back on the market. Even though we were conditioned to believe the Bucs wouldn’t be big spenders this offseason, Zeke is apparently a target for the front office.
Rick Stroud from The Tampa Bay Times linked the Bucs with Elliott, saying that Tampa Bay is expected to be interested.
Could Ezekiel Elliott fit with Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2023?
It seems a bit strange on the surface, but it makes sense when you peel back some of the layers. For starters, the Bucs hired former Dallas Cowboys running backs coach Skip Peete this offseason to serve in the same position for Dave Canales. That was already a huge hire for the Bucs, as Peete coached up one of the NFL’s best backfields last season in Dallas so the hope is that he’d be able to come in and fix one of the worst.
That goes a longer way than some folks might give it credit for. Players love their coaches and coaches love to lean on players they know. Canales is a first-time coordinator who isn’t looking to spoil his first real shot at advancing his career after over a decade under the tutelage of Pete Carroll. Leaning on Peete to fix the running game would be a big feather in each of their caps, and perhaps the fastest way to do that may be to bring in someone who Peete already knows and who completes half of the equation before it even begins to be solved.
Not to keep talking ourselves into this, but there’s also a fit in Tampa Bay.
Leonard Fourentte was let go as part of the Bucs salary reduction strategy, but doing so created a bit of a hole in the depth chart. Rachaad White will assume RB1 duties next season, but he lacks the bulk that Fournette had and isn’t as much of a smashmouth runner.
Elliott could easily fill that void and take over the role that Fournette vacated when he was released.
In addition to replacing Fournette as a burly back and a veteran presence in the locker room, Zeke is an excellent pass protector which would serve whoever is under center this season well.
Other teams will be interested, and the Bucs still have to be careful how much they spend this offseason, but there seems to be a universe where Zeke Elliott ends up in Tampa Bay next season.