In recent seasons, it’s become increasingly popular to lean into the devaluation of the running back position. There’s a feeling in certain league circles that due to the length of their careers, the lack of relative consistency, and the ease with which you can find production at a low cost, it doesn’t make sense to pay top dollar for a superstar running back.
While there are some (Giants GM Dave Gettleman, among others) who have pushed back strongly against that stance, you can consider Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians on that train. The Bucs look to be heading into the season with a backfield of Peyton Barber, Ronald Jones II, and a group of street free agents behind them. But Arians feels confident that they’ll do just fine with that unit.
Asked a follow-up question about potentially buying a star running back if they hit the market, Arians instead held firm. “I mean (sigh), I don’t overpay for that position. David Johnson came in as a rookie, lit it on fire. You just got to find the right guys to fit what you want to do.”
It’s certainly possible the Bucs could get a whole lot more out of Jones this year than they did last, for example. He was a second-round pick in 2018, but he was inactive for much of the season and carried the ball only sparingly when he did play. Perhaps Arians can put him in better position to succeed than the previous coaching staff. If he can’t, perhaps they cobble together a backfield from all the spare parts they have at that spot. And if that doesn’t work, maybe they try to find someone else next year.