Leonard Fournette appears to already be enjoying his time with the Buccaneers.
The running back took to Twitter to post a video that embraced his new friendship with quarterback Tom Brady.
— 7⃣ Leonard Fournette (@_fournette) September 4, 2020
Brady responded favorably to the video via Twitter.
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) September 4, 2020
Fournette hasn’t yet practiced with Tampa Bay as he must go through COVID-19 protocols. He is expected to join the team sometime in the coming week.
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Buccaneers Edged Out Other Teams for Fournette
The Buccaneers were just one of “Several teams” pushing to add Fournette prior to him signing with Tampa Bay. The Patriots were among those squads. New England has a bevy of backs led by former first-rounder Sony Michel, though adding Fournette to their backfield would have elevated the unit.
Fournette reportedly wanted a trade from Jacksonville this past offseason, at which time, the franchise spoke with other clubs. The Jags ultimately couldn’t find a trade, waiting until less than two weeks before their opener to cut ties with the running back.
“Really just trying to take the team and put the best team together from what we’ve seen in our practices so, at the end of the day, I just felt that was the best decision for us as a team,” coach Doug Marrone explained (via Pro Football Action).
Fournette was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 draft. He’s played in only 36 out of a possible 48 games over the past three years, accumulating 2631 yards on 4.3 yards per carry. The 25-year-old has 17 touchdowns in his career.
Where Does Fournette Stand in the Buccaneers’ Backfield?
Ronald Jones II is still the starter in Tampa Bay, despite Fournette’s presence, though it’s only a matter of time before the former No. 4 overall pick ends up claiming a larger share of the offense.
Jones has been working on his pass-catching skills with Tom Brady but reports of his issues in that area of that game have made rounds. Jones netted 10.0 yards per catch on his 31 receptions in 2019 and PFF graded him just 73rd among all running backs in receiving. Football Outsiders views him more favorably, ranking him 17th in DVOA and 20th in DYAR among 50 qualifying backs. Still, this appears to be a committee and one that has other good options in the event that Jones can’t cut it.
LeSean McCoy’s job appears safe after the Buccaneers cut two running backs ahead of the roster cutdown deadline. The veteran running back was a significant factor early for the Chiefs last year, though his efficiency took a hit as the season progressed; McCoy averaged 4.6 yards per carry in 2019, however, after week 8, he saw just 32 carries that netted 103 yards.
McCoy is expected to have a role in the passing game, an area where Fournette excelled last season. It appears that Bruce Arians isn’t counting on Jones to be a heavy contributor in that spot.
Backing up all three is 2020 third-rounder Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Tampa Bay nabbed the former Vanderbilt 1,000-yard rusher with the No. 76 overall pick. He’s a Mark Ingram-type runner, though it may take some injuries for him to see the field this season.
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