Patriots Showing Interest in Signing Super Bowl Champion RB

Getty Leonard Fournette

The New England Patriots have been as busy as any team in the NFL through the first 48 hours of free-agent activity. They have already made several moves to impact both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

A recent report from the NFL Network’s Michael Giardi suggests New England might be looking to make another noteworthy acquisition on offense.

Leonard Fournette’s powerful running style has always screamed Patriots. He feels like a throwback to guys like LeGarrette Blount, Corey Dillon, and Laurence Maroney.

The same could be said for Chris Carson. However, based on recent play, you’d have to believe Fournette would be a bigger draw for the Patriots as they retool their roster.

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The Patriots have some definite uncertainty at the running back position for a few reasons.

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Why the Patriots are Interested in Fournette?

The answer is pretty simple.

While the Patriots seemed to have a wealth of running backs in 2020, that probably won’t be the case in 2021. James White and Rex Burkhead are unrestricted free agents. White is getting his share of interest from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and others.

Burkhead tore his ACL in 2020, and while his versatility and locker room presence are major pluses, there is no guarantee he’ll be back. That leaves the Patriots with Sony Michel, Damien Harris, undrafted rookie from 2020 J.J. Taylor, and the opt-out-returning Brandon Bolden. The latter is more of a special teamer and emergency short-yardage back. Taylor is small in stature at 5’6″, per ESPN, and thus limited. 

Michel is heading into a contract season, and he’s also struggled to stay healthy. He’s missed 10 games in the last three seasons, and that includes seven in 2020. Likewise, Harris has also struggled to stay healthy.

He was outstanding in 10 games in 2020. He tallied 691 yards and averaged five yards per carry. However, he did miss six games due to injury as well. With so much uncertainty, the Patriots could add a veteran and perhaps a rookie (drafted or undrafted) to the roster at running back.

Why Fournette Over Carson?

Both men have a similar style and similar production as a running back, but Fournette is the more accomplished receiver out of the backfield. In 2019, Fournette had 76 receptions for a woeful Jacksonville Jaguars offense. That season, Fournette had 1,674 yards from scrimmage. Carson isn’t useless out of the backfield. He’s had 37 receptions each of the last two seasons, but Fournette is seemingly capable of being a three-down option in the event Harris is down, as he was last year.

He may not be asked to carry that kind of a load for the Patriots, but the versatility is something that has no doubt caught the Patriots’ eye. According to the count and keen eye of Patriots salary cap expert Miguel Bezan, the Patriots still have more than $42 million available to spend, and more could be created from releases and trades.

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