Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2018 free agency spotlight – Andrew Norwell

NFL teams can start signing free agents at 3 p.m. CDT Wednesday, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did on Tuesday what they need to do to make sure their leading rusher wasnt among the players changing teams.

The Bucs signed former Auburn standout Peyton Barber to a one-year contract worth $630,000.

Report: Buccaneers re-sign Peyton Barber

Two seasons after entering the NFL as an undrafted player, Barber carried the designation of exclusive-rights free agent into this offseason. Under that level of free agency, Tampa Bay needed only to offer Barber a contract at the minimum salary before 3 p.m. Wednesday to retain him for the 2018 season. And thats what the Buccaneers did, ESPN reported.

Barber emerged as Tampa Bays top ball-carrier in December. In Tampa Bays first 11 games of 2017, Barber played 69 snaps with the Bucs offense, ran for 88 yards on 30 carries and caught four passes for 31 yards. But in the final five games of 2017, he played 185 offensive snaps, ran for 335 yards on 78 carries and caught 12 passes for 83 yards.

The December surge allowed Barber to finish as the Bucs leading rusher with 423 yards — 17 more than Doug Martin on 30 fewer rushing attempts.

After rushing for 1,402 yards in 2015, Martin played in 19 of Tampa Bays next 32 games, ran for 827 yards and averaged 2.9 yards per carry. The Buccaneers released Martin on Feb. 20.

The deal is merely a formality, as Barber wont have a shot to sign elsewhere until 2019 when hell be a restricted free agent. He currently sits atop the depth chart at running back, but it wont come as any surprise if the Bucs land an upgrade in free agency or the draft. Doug Martin was released in February, while Charles Sims is set to become an unrestricted free agent Wednesday. Barber impressively closed out last season with five straight weeks recording at least 51 rushing yards and 3.9 yards per carry. He was undrafted coming out of Auburn in 2016.

With Charles Sims set to become a free agent on Wednesday afternoon, Tampa Bay will be left with Barber, Jacquizz Rodgers and Dalton Crossan as the running backs on its roster.

Barber, an exclusive rights free agent, agreed to a one-year, $630,000 contract with the Buccaneers, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Rodgers is an eight-year veteran with 14 career starts and 1,961 NFL rushing yards. Crossan has never played in an NFL game.

Brate has exceeded all expectations as an unheralded tight end who was signed by the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent out of Harvard in 2014. Hes grown into an important part of Tampa Bays offense in the last three seasons, especially in the red zone. Brate has tallied 128 receptions for 1,539 yards and 17 touchdowns from 2015-2017.

Barber left Auburn after running for 1,047 yards and 13 touchdowns during his sophomore season.

The Buccaneers cut Barber at the end of the preseason in 2016, and Tampa Bay re-signed him for its practice squad. Before the first game of his rookie season, Barber was promoted to the active roster and stayed there throughout 2016, even getting a starting assignment because of injuries. Barber had 55 rushing attempts for 223 yards and one touchdown – a 44-yard run on his 10th NFL carry — and caught five passes for 28 yards during his rookie season.

During his career, Barber has 646 yards and four touchdowns on 163 rushing attempts and 21 receptions for 142 yards. Hes been on the field for 390 offensive snaps and 352 special-teams plays.

After signing a one-year, $690,000 deal as an exclusive-rights free agent in 2017, Brate was headed toward restricted free agency on Wednesday. Tampa Bay ensured he didnt get that far by striking the deal Monday.


Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.

Running back Peyton Barber was set to be an exclusive rights free agent this offseason, but Field Yates of ESPN reports that the Bucs have re-signed him to a one-year, $660,000 contract.

Barber ran 108 times for 423 yards and three touchdowns last season and also caught 16 passes for 114 yards. It was his second year in Tampa and he picked up 223 yards on 55 carries in 2016.

Barber could be in the mix for the starting job come September, although it seems likely that the Bucs will be making other moves in the backfield. They released Doug Martin this offseason and Charles Sims is set to be a free agent, which leaves Jacquizz Rodgers as the only other experienced back on the current roster.

Posted in World