Jan 2, 2012; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida Gators running back Jeff Demps (28) runs the ball during the second half of the 2012 Gator Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes at EverBank Field. Florida won, 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-US PRESSWIRE

Jeff Demps to decide Monday, Tampa Bay Buccaneers front-runners

4×100 London Olympic athlete Jeff Demps stated his intent to play in the NFL yesterday, and a tweet from Tampa Bay Times Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat writer Stephen Holder states that Demps will likely decide on a team by Monday. The Buccaneers have a serious amount of interest in the former Florida Gators standout at running back, and they are looking to use him as an RB/slot WR hybrid in their offense. Holder tweets that they are “definitely a front runner”.

Writers, such as yours truly, have been speculating that the New England Patriots should get involved. Demps had 23 career touchdowns and over 2,400 rushing yards while with the Gators in his college career, so he is more than just a speedster. However, the main thing is that the Patriots don’t exactly have the best kick return game.

Julian Edelman is a fine punt returner, don’t get me wrong, but he’s not a guy who translates well as a kick-off returner despite his great ability returning punts. Danny Woodhead isn’t the answer either, and it goes beyond his awful decision in the preseason opener. He just hasn’t consistently done a good job fielding kick-offs, and Jeff Demps would be an immense upgrade for the Pats and give them a game-breaking returner for the first time in a while.

The problem is that things get tight when cutting it down to a 53-man roster, so adding a fifth running back when there are already four more-than-capable backs set to be on the roster might not be ideal. Demps does offer value as more than just a returner, but that’s his primary source of value.

While New England does need an upgrade on the kick-off returns, putting Woodhead there isn’t disastrous and it’s just returns (especially with last year’s new 35-yard kick-off rule). It’s fun to speculate, but Jeff Demps probably isn’t going to the Patriots. It’s looking like the extremely speedy silver medalists- this guy is gone once he gets to the edge with his burst- will end up a Buccaneer based on the high early interest. But who knows which teams will emerge. Will the Patriots surprisingly show interest? I doubt it. What do you guys think?

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

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Tags: Danny Woodhead Florida Jeff Demps Julian Edelman London Olympics New England Patriots Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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