The New England Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are heading in two different directions. After signing quarterback Tom Brady to a two-year deal, the Buccaneers are very much in win-now mode. The Patriots, meanwhile, are looking towards the future with Jarrett Stidham or another rookie calling the shots. Considering the current state of the respective franchises, the Patriots and Buccaneers should iron out a trade for running back James White.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Should Trade For James White
Tom Brady is notorious for his unparalleled work ethic and attention to detail. Based on his 20-year run with New England, the most important thing to succeeding in his offense is seeing the field the same way he does. Historically speaking, all the talent in the world doesn’t matter if Brady doesn’t trust you to read and react to the defense in the way he expects.
Mike Evans and Chris Godwin should have no problem earning Brady’s trust in time, but there may be some rough patches to start the season. The issues involved with adjusting to a new offense, scheme, and receiving core at age 43 could be amplified if COVID-19 leads to an abbreviated offseason program.
Outside of Julian Edelman, nobody in this world has a better connection with Tom Brady than James White. The former Super Bowl hero and pass-catching specialist has transformed into one of the most dangerous receiving threats out of the backfield. Over the past four seasons, White has recorded 275 receptions for 2,376 yards and 20 receiving touchdowns, insane numbers for a running back. He’s done most of this despite splitting snaps with an early-down runner like LeGarrette Blount or Sony Michel.
Many have linked Edelman to the Buccaneers, but New England probably won’t want to trade him. Edelman still has two years on his contract and he’s the only proven commodity at receiver. Keeping him around will make a lot easier for Jarrett Stidham. White, meanwhile, could probably be obtained for a reasonable cost. The Patriots are stacked at running back with Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, and even emergency do-everything back Brandon Bolden. Considering White is in the final year of his deal, New England would probably part with him for a third- or fourth-round pick.
How White Fits the Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could use another running back. Ronald Jones showed some signs of life in 2019 and deserves to be a part of the 2020 offense. However, he shouldn’t be the workhorse back. Last year, Jones led the team with just 36.47% of the running back snaps, barely ahead of Dare Ogunbowale’s 31.72% and Peyton Barber’s 29.79%. Barber is currently a free agent, and Ogunbowale is anything but a lock for a role in the offense.
Ogunbowale and Jones both saw their fair share of targets in 2019, but neither player was particularly effective in that part of the game. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones ended the year with a below-average 59.8 receiving grade, while Ogunbowale finished with a similar 62.6 grade. While, meanwhile, ended the year as the fifth-best receiving back with an 85.2 grade.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in win-now mode with Brady calling the shots. James White increases Tampa Bay’s odds of competing for a title and would erase one of the few weaknesses in the Buccaneers’ offense. The Patriots should be open to making a trade that makes sense for both sides.
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