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?