Moore Trade Talks to Resume?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have lost their first- and second-string running backs in the last two weeks, prompting speculation that they will up the offer in their efforts to trade for Vikings running back Mewelde Moore.

Tampa Bay Bucs general manager Bruce Allen and Vikings vice president of player personnel could be touching base again this week.

Last week, the Bucs called the Vikings looking for a running back after starter Carnell "Cadillac" Williams was lost for the season with a tear of the patellar tendon. Michael Pittman's ankle injury suffered Sunday might also be season-ending, according to published reports.

The Vikings reportedly turned down an offer of a Tampa Bay's sixth-round draft pick for running back Mewelde Moore, with the Vikings looking for a first-day (first three rounds) draft pick in exchange for the versatile Moore. Now with Pittman's injury, the Bucs might place a higher value on Moore's services.

Moore entered the 2007 season with 1,172 yards and a 4.8-yard average per rush in three seasons of part-time duty with the Vikings. He started three games in his rookie season, rushing for 379 yards and a 5.8-yard average and made an additional eight starts in 2005, rushing for a career-high 662 yards and a 4.3-yard average.

With Brad Childress taking over last season and the acquisition of Chester Taylor, Moore saw only 24 carries in 2006, and this year, after the drafting of rookie sensation Adrian Peterson, Moore has been inactive for two games. In the two games he has played, he has been used sparingly, carrying the ball 10 times and adding six receptions.

But, while he hasn't been used often this season, he is still valuable insurance for the Vikings while Taylor has missed two games and the Vikings figure out if they can trust Peterson to stay healthy after a college career that featured much production and numerous missed games at Oklahoma.

Moore is in the final year of his rookie contract after the Vikings drafted him in the fourth round in 2004 and isn't likely to return to the Minnesota with Taylor and Peterson ahead of him. For now, however, it is likely worth it for the Vikings to keep him in the fold unless they can secure at least a fourth-round pick in a trade.

From the Bucs' perspective, they desperately need a running back. In the course of two weeks, Earnest Graham has gone from a seldom-used third-string running back to their first-string rusher on Sunday against the Colts. In a game the Bucs eventually lost 33-14, Graham had only six rushes for 11 yards, but as a team Tampa Bay managed only 12 rushes for 17 yards as Indianapolis built a 23-7 lead through three quarters.

With Bucs head coach Jon Gruden's job being in a precarious position entering this season, he may feel the pressure to win now, and with a 3-2 record, they are still tied with the Carolina Panthers for the lead in the NFC South with only one undefeated team (the Dallas Cowboys) remaining in the conference.

The Bucs had rushed for more than 180 yards in each of their previous two games, but after Williams' patellar tendon tear and Pittman's potential broken ankle, they need help at running back.

"We're going to have to either put in the no-back formation or we'll have to certainly address that somehow, some way," Gruden said after Sunday's loss.

Tampa Bay is also reportedly interested in currently suspended Dolphins running back Ricky Williams. The Bucs face the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

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