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Tuesday, Jul 26, 2016
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

You be the Bucs' GM: Running backs

The NFL free agency period begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday. For seven consecutive days, The Tampa Tribune and TBO.com will feature one position each day. We'll provide an analysis of the position and list the players to consider: Bucs under contract for 2010, and Bucs and notable NFL players scheduled to become free agents. OK, Bucs fans. You be the general manager. Running back Cadillac Williams, Derrick Ward and Earnest Graham faced an unlikely opponent that limited their performances last season.
Their coaching staff. The Bucs failed to commit to the running game for most of 2009, which did nothing to help rookie quarterback Josh Freeman. Williams proved he could carry the workload, rushing 211 times for 823 yards and four touchdowns, but the Bucs' coaching staff struggled to integrate Ward into the offense and Graham's carries diminished when he was asked to shift to fullback in place of injured B.J. Askew. Still, running back does not appear to be an area of great need for the Bucs. Ward and Graham are under contract and Williams is unlikely to leave after receiving a tender offer from the Bucs on Friday. Return specialist Clifton Smith also remains an option in the backfield - if the Bucs can come up with a game plan for four running backs. Bucs under contract for 2010 B.J. Askew - Great FB when healthy but is injury prone Earnest Graham - Unselfish, must compete with Smith Kareem Huggins - Has some definite upside Chris Pressley - FB improved as season progressed Derrick Ward - Didn't say much; production was quieter Bucs potential free agents Clifton Smith - Hoping Bucs will reward him Byron Storer (RFA) - On injured reserve past two years Cadillac Williams (RFA*) - Team's leading rusher in '09 NOTE: (RFA) - denotes restricted free agent; Bucs have chance to match any offer or receive compensation if player leaves. (RFA*) - denotes restricted free agent if no Collective Bargaining Agreement in place. NFL potential free agents Mike Bell, Saints (RFA) - Provides depth for Saints Chris Brown, Texans - He's 30, on downside of career Jerome Harrison, Browns (RFA) - Team's top threat Willie Parker, Steelers - Has become an afterthought Chester Taylor, Vikings - Lost his job to Adrian Peterson Pierre Thomas, Saints (RFA) - Hard to not keep him LaDainian Tomlinson - Wants to be on a contender Brian Westbrook - Injury prone but still has gas in tank The schedule: Thursday, Feb. 25: Quarterbacks Friday, Feb. 26: Defensive line Saturday, Feb. 27: Offensive line Sunday, Feb. 28: Linebackers Monday, March 1: Running backs Tuesday, March 2: Defensive backs Wednesday, March 3: Receivers/tight ends Thursday, March 4: Summary and results