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Would Greg Schiano have signed Ray Rice for Bucs?

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If the Tampa Bay Bucs had not changed coaches, might they be interested in changing running backs?

In other words, if Greg Schiano was still the coach at One Buc, and we will pause as you shudder over the prospect, might they be interested in signing Ray Rice then?

Yeah, yeah. After his domestic battery case, teams are avoiding Rice like he was a carrier of MRSA. And you can’t blame him. The NFL seems to have finally gotten serious about domestic battery with the release of Ray McDonald of the Bears and the 10-game suspension of Greg Hardy of the Cowboys.

But might Schiano take a deep breath and take the plunge?

Remember, Schiano loved his former players at Rutgers, and he never missed a chance to praise Rice. Part of the reason the team drafted Doug Martin, in fact, is that he had elements of Rice to his game. He is a small, slashing back who, when healthy, can scare a defense. Rice had four 1,000-yard seasons with the Ravens.

But Martin didn’t do much of that in 2013, the last season he played, rushing for only 494 yards.

Come to think of it, Rice didn’t do a lot  himself.

Whether teams want to express that, or if they just want to say no because of Rice’s controversies, are a different thing. But Rice was a descending player the last couple of years. His yards per carry went from 4.7 in 2011 to 4.4 in 2012 to 3.1 last year. Who knows how much he has left? In all, his yards rushing went from 1,364 to 1,143 to 660 in 2013.

His yards receiving went from 704 to 478 to 321. In the last three years, his total yards from scrimmage.

As Rice looks for work, here or anywhere, that may be the stumbling point. For a team to take a chance on a pariah such as Rice, he would still have to be a great player. At 28, there are indications that he is a player whose skills are declining. He and one who has become the poster child for domestic violence, isn’t the most attractive option on the market.

Yeah, maybe Schiano would take a chance.

But why would anyone else?

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Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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