The Bucs could find an answer at running back from the Super Bowl LVI champions
One position that is going to continue to be mentioned as one of need for the Bucs is running back. With only one under contract, there’s no question it will be addressed. More than likely, it will be addressed in both free agency and in the NFL Draft. The Bucs have Ke’Shawn Vaughn and it appears as though they are going to lose Leonard Fournette to another team next week;
— Evan Closky (@ECloskyWTSP) March 9, 2022
Could the Bucs find the answer in the form of a Super Bowl champion?
Sony Michel’s Career Thus Far
Drafted 31st overall in the 2018 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots, Michel had a difficult time finding footing at Foxboro. Highly touted out of Georgia, Michel didn’t make the impact many believed he would – or could. Though he did ave over 200 carries and over 900 yards in each of his first two seasons while adding a combined thirteen rushing touchdowns in those two seasons, Michel never established himself as the top back or assert himself as the go-to player in the backfield under Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniel.
In his third season, Michel played just nine games before being traded in the off-season to the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams, who lost running back Cam Akers to an achilles injury, sent the Patriots a sixth round pick in 2022 and a fourth round pick in 2023 in exchange for Michel. Michel would go on to rush for over 800 yards and add on four touchdowns during the Rams’ championship season.
Why It Works
Michel has shown flashes of his ability to be the top running back in an offense. There were flashes in New England and during his time in Los Angeles, but both places had “too many cooks in the kitchen” so to speak, causing Michel to share more of the playing time than he probably should have. In Tampa his speed, agility, vision, and ability to catch the ball could make for a sure fire lead back under Byron Leftwich. Not only that, but Michel can provide reliability for whatever quarterback ends up under center.
Over his four seasons, Michel has 47 receptions on 73 targets for 386 yards and two touchdowns. If the Bucs roll with Kyle Trask, Michel gives him a checkdown outlet to avoid trouble – and mistakes.
In a run first offense, Michel is a player that is used to playing with other backs but can also be left out on the field for all three downs as well as be the two-minute drill running back. Ultimately, he checks off every box that the Bucs would be looking for.
His injury issues are somewhat of a concern. Even as far back as high school, Michel has dealt with a torn ACL, a broken shoulder blade, a quad injury, and has had numerous additional procedures on the knee throughout his career. It appears to be a lingering issue at this point and something Michel has to deal with and play through. That certainly. has to be taken into consideration when making him an offer.
What’s The Cost?
Michel is coming off his rookie deal that paid him $9.6 million over the four years. Now, Spotrac has an estimated market value for Michel of $5 million per year on an average annual value. That’s not exorbitant by any means, especially when it comes to a lead back. Michel is also the kind of player that you could put on an incentive laden deal that could result in a big payout if he shows he’s the top guy and breaks off his first career 1,000 yard season.
In terms of proven running backs that Tampa Bay can get on the open market, Michel could be an absolute steal.
What We Don’t Know
Whether or not Michel will be wanted back in Los Angeles or if he would be interested in Tampa Bay without his former teammate Tom Brady. Now, it seems reasonable to believe that the Rams are willing to let Michel walk after they got Cam Akers back late in their postseason push. The reason they got Michel in the first place is because Akers was out.
Did he impress Sean McVay enough that McVay wants him back and will find him a role? Or is Michel not looking to play second fiddle to Akers?
Make The Decision
Is Sony Michel the Bucs’ answer to losing Leonard Fournette? And could he be the running back to help the Bucs enter the post-Brady phase of the franchise? Let us know what you think about the idea of Sony Michel suiting up for the Bucs in 2022 and beyond.