Free Agent Spotlight: RB, Marlon Mack

It feels as if adjustments are made to the Buccaneers’ backfield each offseason. There have been fairly just a few adjustments from 2019 to 2020, with Ke’Shawn Vaughn, LeSean McCoy and Leonard Fournette all added to the combo as Peyton Barber and Dare Ogunbowale departed. Now, as Tampa Bay turns the web page to the 2021 season after profitable Super Bowl LV, there appears to be like to be backfield turnover as soon as once more.

Together with his efficiency within the playoffs, Fournette might have earned himself a payday that the Bucs can’t afford to offer him. As for McCoy, he might very nicely retire. In any other case, he’s prone to signal on elsewhere as nicely. So, if these two are out, who’s coming in?

If the Bucs look to the free company marketplace for a operating again to enrich Jones, maybe they’ll look into an enormous bounce-back candidate that’s lots conversant in taking part in at Raymond James Stadium. In fact, we’re speaking about Marlon Mack, the previous College of South Florida standout.


NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars

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After taking part in his prep profession at Booker Excessive Faculty, Mack selected to signal with USF over the likes of Louisville, Michigan and UCLA. By the point his three-year profession with the Bulls was over, he was this system’s all-time main rusher and was even the American Athletic Convention’s all-time main rusher for a time (he now ranks fourth). In three seasons, Mack ran for 3,609 yards and 32 touchdowns whereas catching 65 passes for 498 yards and one rating. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry over his faculty profession and earned 14 USF data, establishing himself as one of many Bulls’ best gamers ever.

Within the fourth spherical of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts used the 143rd total decide to pick out Mack. He was the fifteenth operating again taken and have become the twenty eighth participant in USF historical past to get drafted. He spent his rookie 12 months backing up Frank Gore, operating for 358 yards and three touchdowns whereas catching 21 passes for 225 yards and a rating.

Mack turned the Colts’ beginning operating again in 2018, breaking out in an enormous approach. He ran for 908 yards and 9 touchdowns regardless of lacking three video games early within the season with a hamstring damage. Within the first spherical of the playoffs, he set a franchise document with 148 yards and a landing on 24 carries in a 21-7 win over the Texans. Indianapolis’ season—and Mack’s—ended with a dud within the subsequent spherical, but it surely was nonetheless an awesome sophomore season for the 2017 fourth-round decide.

Mack’s rise continued in 2019, as he ran for 1,091 yards and eight touchdowns. He completed that 12 months eleventh within the league in speeding, and he did that in simply 14 video games (12 begins) due to a hand damage he handled within the latter half of the marketing campaign. Regardless of failing to play a full 16-game season in every of his first three seasons, Mack nonetheless had put collectively a powerful begin to his skilled profession. Sadly for him, although, 2020 dealt him a much bigger damage than any of the minor knocks that he picked up within the earlier seasons. He tore his Achilles within the Colts’ Week 1 loss to Jacksonville, sidelining him for the remainder of the 12 months whereas rookie Jonathan Taylor went on to hurry for 1,169 yards and 11 touchdowns as his substitute.

Together with his rookie deal up on the finish of 2020, Mack now enters free company for the primary time. He turns simply 25 years previous on March 7, so it’s seemingly that, even though he’s coming off of such a significant damage, he’s going to be an intriguing choice for lots of groups out there for a operating again.

If Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy are each headed elsewhere in 2021, the Bucs might want to fill some gaps of their backfield this offseason. A type of gaps is larger than the opposite, after all, as Fournette spent a lot of the 2020 season complementing Ronald Jones II. So, who higher to imagine that position of complementing Jones than a former 1,000-yard rusher like Mack? Earlier than lacking this previous season, the Sarasota-born again was on an upward trajectory that had him trying like one of many steals of the 2017 draft. How he bounces again from his torn Achilles stays to be seen, but it surely’s not unreasonable to count on him to return to his earlier kind. At his finest, Mack will be an explosive runner with good pace. He averaged 3.8, 4.7 and 4.4 yards per carry in his first three seasons, respectively, then averaged 6.5 yards per carry over his 4 rushes within the 2020 season. There’s big-play potential there, that’s for positive.


Given what Tom Brady likes to do within the quick passing recreation, whichever operating backs Tampa Bay provides to its 2021 roster will have to be serviceable receivers. Mack has proven flashes of being receiver, averaging 10.7 yards per catch as a rookie earlier than dipping down to six.1 and 5.9 in his subsequent two seasons. And, earlier than he left Week 1 of the 2020 season along with his damage, he had three catches for 30 yards in restricted time. Contemplating the struggles that Bucs operating backs had with catching the ball in Brady’s first season, it’s onerous to disagree with the concept that Mack would enhance the pass-catching of Tampa Bay’s backfield.

From a expertise standpoint, Mack would seem like a pleasant match with the Bucs. And it’s simple to see why taking part in in Tampa once more could be engaging to the previous USF Bull. He is aware of the realm nicely and would absolutely like his probabilities at competing for a championship in 2021 and past. There’s lots to like for either side in relation to a possible deal.

Achilles accidents will be difficult. How nicely Mack bounces again in 2021 would be the massive query for groups inquisitive about signing him this offseason. He’s solely 25, however getting again as much as the purpose the place he was earlier than the damage might take a while and there must be an opportunity that he’s by no means absolutely the identical as he as soon as was. So, as proficient as the previous Colt is, it’s doable the Bucs search for a safer choice so as to add to their backfield for this fall.

In fact, bringing in a man like Mack to enrich Jones can be a non-starter if the workforce believes Ke’Shawn Vaughn can tackle the No. 2 position. For one, Mack isn’t the kind of participant that needs to be competing to be a backup. He might be a straightforward No. 2—or very seemingly a starter—elsewhere. On prime of that, he’s seemingly making an attempt to receives a commission in his first time as a free agent. Colts normal supervisor Chris Ballard has even stated he would like to convey Mack again to Indianapolis to pair with Taylor, however he believes that his 2017 fourth-rounder deserves a “good contract.”

So, if the Bucs are to offer him a “good contract,” it’s going to be for a big position within the offense. If Vaughn is a powerful candidate to be the complement to Jones, Tampa Bay will certainly be searching for a less expensive choice to convey into the fold.

Price would be the key right here with Mack, as it is going to be with each free agent that the Bucs pursue this offseason. Preserving the vast majority of their Tremendous Bowl champion workforce collectively gained’t be simple, so any additions to the roster must make good monetary sense. And as Ballard stated by way of the lens of the Colts’ state of affairs, he’s unsure if he may give Mack the contract that he deserves heading into his age-25 season. If it’s a big-money contract that Mack is searching for, him signing with Tampa Bay goes to be a longshot.

Then once more, with Mack coming off of a torn Achilles, he might come at a cut price. There’s an opportunity {that a} workforce will spend some huge cash on him, however he might discover himself with affords which are decrease than he would really like on account of the damage. A bounce-back 12 months could also be so as earlier than he will get his massive payday. Professional Soccer Focus initiatives a one-year, $2.5 million deal (with $1.75 million assured) for him. So, if he finally ends up searching for a short-term prove-it deal, maybe the Bucs might be out there for his providers in spite of everything.

As talked about earlier than, we don’t know what the Bucs take into consideration Vaughn’s future within the backfield. The 2020 third-round pick of Vanderbilt didn’t get a lot taking part in time as a rookie and in his restricted snaps, he made his share of errors. However Jason Licht and his entrance workplace clearly noticed one thing in him, so it could be tough to push him to the facet or fully half methods with him already. Nonetheless, the Bucs are nonetheless in “win now” mode. So if it comes all the way down to hoping Vaughn pans out sooner or later or including an already-established again to pair with Jones, the latter choice might be extra seemingly.

As with every free agent, we additionally don’t understand how Tampa Bay views Mack. Will they see the previous USF star and promising expertise that emerged in his first three years with the Colts? Or will the Achilles damage be too massive of a query mark? There’s additionally the prospect that the Bucs go along with a operating again who has extra familiarity with Brady as they attempt to proceed setting the soon-to-be 44-year-old up for achievement in 12 months 22.

NFL: Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports activities

So, what do you assume, Bucs Nation? Would you prefer to see Marlon Mack return to Ray Jay as a Buc in 2021? You’ll want to tell us what you assume by voting in our ballot and discussing your ideas within the feedback down under.


On the subject of Marlon Mack, what would you’ve gotten the Buccaneers do?

  • 0%

    Signal him it doesn’t matter what

    (0 votes)

  • 0%

    Make a proposal, however maintain it affordable

    (0 votes)

  • 0%

    Invite him for a cup of espresso and see the place it goes

    (0 votes)

  • 0%

    Name him up if they’ve a necessity after the NFL Draft

    (0 votes)

  • 0%

    Don’t want him

    (0 votes)

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