TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday traded running back LeGarrette Blount to the New England Patriots for a seventh-round pick in the 2013 draft and the rights to running back/track star Jeff Demps.
The Bucs then used the pick they got from New England to trade up to the 189th overall spot in the draft, where they immediately grabbed a potential replacement for Blount by drafting University of Miami running back Mike James.
“We've talked to Jeff a little bit, and we understand what he's doing,'' Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said of Demps, who is attempting to maintain a track career while also pursuing a football career.
“We're just taking the rights to him to see what happen. He practiced here against us last year in Tampa (during the preseason) and played against us and had a good game against us.
“But that wasn't the reason for the trade. He was part of it, but not the reason. We were going to do LeGarrette for a seventh-round pick but we took the rights to Jeff Demps because we want to investigate that further.''
Blount first came to the Bucs as a waiver acquisition prior to the start of the 2010 season and had a break out year as a rookie, running 201 times for 1,007 yards and six touchdowns.
But Blount struggled in several key areas including pass catching, pass protection and he often failed to carry out his running assignments properly, leaving coaches frustrated.
Concerned by his limitations, the Bucs drafted Doug Martin as their feature back a year ago and that all but sealed Blount's fate as he ran the ball just 41 times for 151 yards in limited duty last year.
The Bucs re-signed Blount during the offseason to a one-year, $1.75 million contract but that was done largely to protect them against loss as the team has been shopping him since the end of last season.
“For us, LeGarrette is going into the final year of his contract and we've had LeGarrette with us for a couple different (coaching) staffs and all I can tell you is he's been a good player for but we felt this was best for our team,'' Dominik said.
Demps is a University of Florida product who passed on an opportunity to prepare for the NFL scouting combine last year to prepare instead for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
The sprinter won a silver medal as a member of the United States 4 X 100 meter relay team and later signed on with the Patriots, but he never appeared in a regular season game for New England.
The decision to move Blount leaves the Bucs with no specified backup to Martin, but with Brian Leonard and Michael Smith on the roster Dominik said he may not be done adding to his backfield.
“We still have time left and we'll see how the day plays out,'' Dominik said. “And just because the draft ends, that doesn't mean we're done with running backs. We still have time (to add a back) before we take that first snap.''