While Tom Brady is no longer with the New England Patriots, he is still affecting decisions made within the organization.
Brady is returning to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after retiring for just over a month. The quarterback will be 45 years old when the 2022 NFL regular season begins and will be playing in his 23rd NFL season.
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With retirement on the horizon, Brady will look to win an unfathomable eighth Super Bowl ring and end his career on top. With that in mind, the quarterback will want to run things back with his guys and make one last run for a championship.
One guy Brady clearly wanted to stay with the Buccaneers was free agent running back Leonard Fournette. Fournette said during a June 7 minicamp media conference that he heard from Brady when he visited the Patriots as a free agent in March.
“Man, what’s your ass doing up there?” he said Brady asked.
“I was just shopping around, man, just seeing what best fits me,” Fournette told reporters. He added that after Brady signed back on with Tampa Bay, “it was a no-brainer” to stick with that team.
What Would Fournette Bring to the Patriots?
If Fournette had joined New England, the Patriots would have a stacked group of running backs entering the 2022 season.
The 27-year-old has been a bruiser ever since he entered the NFL. The fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft has racked up over 3,800 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns.
As his age shows, Fournette still has some quality years ahead of him. While the window on a running back’s career is short, he’s entering just his sixth season.
Fournette is coming off another quality season in 2021. He ran for 812 yards and tallied 8 touchdowns. Adding him to a running back room that already has the likes of Damien Harris and James White would make the Patriots running game tough to stop.
Fournette would add a bulldozing red zone option to New England’s offense who can pick up yards after contact at an impressive rate.
So Why Isn’t Fournette in New England?
Besides Brady questioning what he was doing in New England, money likely played a factor.
The running back wouldn’t have come cheap if New England really wanted to acquire him. Fournette signed a two-year deal with an option entering the 2024 season. The deal is worth a total of $21 million.
While it might have been enticing to bring Fournette to New England, with Harris already on the roster and Rhamondre Stevenson having a promising rookie season, the cost may have been too high for the Patriots.
In 2022, Harris is likely to continue to receive the bulk of the carries. Stevenson will also continue to build off his promising rookie season where he rushed for over 600 yards and five touchdowns.
New England will also get White back after he missed the majority of last season due to injury and drafted Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris who will look to try and make an impact as much as they can in their first NFL seasons.
So while the Patriots might have thought that they could have landed Fournette, Brady wasn’t going to let that happen.