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Koetter: Running back 'has to be' a priority for Bucs

Last week's release of former All-Pro Doug Martin leaves the Buccaneers with only Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers as experienced running backs.

Asked at the NFL Scouting Combine if the position is a priority heading into the new league year, coach Dirk Koetter replied Wednesday, "It has to be."

"We only have two running backs under contract right now," Koetter explained, "and you're probably going to keep four on your team. ... Of course running back is going to have to be [a priority], but that doesn't mean we don't like Peyton and Jacquizz. We do like them."

Former Florida State star Dalvin Cook was on Tampa Bay's radar in the first round of last year's draft, only to tumble to Minnesota a round later when Alabama tight end O.J. Howard fell into Koetter's hands at No. 19 overall.

Having missed out on Cook, the Bucs will be a strong candidate to target a running back early in this year's draft. Although Penn State's Saquon Barkley will likely be off the board by the time Tampa Bay picks at No. 7, USC's Ronald Jones or the Georgia tandem of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb might just be available early in the second round.

Alternatively, the Buccaneers could opt to make a run at one of free agency's top backs such as Carlos Hyde, Dion Lewis or Jerick McKinnon.

Koetter's offense offers major bounce-back potential after failing to live up to the preseason hype last year. To reach that ceiling, though, the backfield needs an infusion of talent.

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