Should Buccaneers Call James Wilder Jr.?
With the current state of the Buccaneers’ backfield, should they reach out to former Florida State running back and the son of a former Buccaneer, James Wilder Jr.?
After what seemed like the 300th running back this season went down Thursday night with an injury, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the recipient of a tweet from Jameis Winston‘s former FSU teammate and the son of a beloved former Buccaneer who offered his services;
Hey @TBBuccaneers ???????????????????????? not to sound arrogant or takin shots at anybody bt I think I could improve your backfield right now just my opinion
— James Wilder Jr (@IAm_Wilder32) November 4, 2016
Not only that, but he also threw out a fun stat to help state his case;
Watching all these NFL RBs fumbling the football pshhh…fun fact I have 0 fumbles in NFL, COLLEGE or HIGH SCHOOL it's plain unacceptable!!!
— James Wilder Jr (@IAm_Wilder32) November 6, 2016
Bringing in James Wilder isn’t a crazy idea by any stretch. Even with the potential Sunday return of Doug Martin, the Buccaneers are still without Charles Sims, Jacquizz Rodgers, and Antone Smith. That leaves them with Peyton Barber and Mike James going forward. Even if Wilder just joins the practice squad for a bit as he learns the offense, he and Jameis obviously already have a built-in rapport and trust with one another, which will go a long way.
Wilder Jr. finished his FSU career with 1,363 yards and 20 touchdowns on 226 carries, while catching 24 passes for 182 yards and two more touchdowns. It would be a sharp learning curve to get an understanding of the offense this far into the season, but with the way Buccaneers running backs keep dropping like flies, you’d have to think it certainly couldn’t hurt to give him a chance.
Wilder Jr.’s professional career has been tough sledding thus far. He signed with the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2014 and wound up on their practice squad. Wilder Jr. would sign with the Buffalo Bills in January of 2016, only to be waived/injured in September, and eventually released later that month.
This Buccaneers team isn’t all we thought it was going to be, but injuries have played a critical role in that, decimating the depth and talent week after week. Bringing someone in halfway through the season isn’t going to put this team over the top and all of a sudden allow them to run the table in the second half. It’s about making the right moves to ensure that they aren’t scrambling if – or when – the next guy goes down. As much as people want to preach that this is a “next man up” league, the next man isn’t as good as the one he is replacing or else he’d be starting somewhere.
James Wilder Jr. can help the team moving forward from a depth perspective and, if given the opportunity, can create a niche for himself now and possibly become part of this team moving forward into 2017. Wilder was already a favorite target of Bucs fans when he entered the draft, not only because so many Bucs fans are also Florida State fans, but because of the connection he has with the city as well as the fact that his dad – James Wilder – is considered Buccaneers royalty.
It would do the Buccaneers a world of good to at least give the kid a chance to work out for the team. At this point – at 3-5 – what do they really have to lose?
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