Jets Predicted to Sign Former Top-4 Pick, Super Bowl Champ

Leonard Fournette, Bucs

Getty Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette warming up ahead of an NFL game.

The New York Jets could be adding a new piece to the roster sooner rather than later.

Joe Caporoso of Badlands recently predicted that Gang Green will sign veteran running back Leonard Fournette in “late July or early August.”

The 28-year-old has spent the last three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That tenure was highlighted by a Super Bowl championship during the 2020 NFL season.

Leonard Fournette Appears to Have Gas Left in the Tank

The former LSU product originally entered the NFL back in 2017 as the No. 4 overall pick in the first round.

Fournette started his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars and spent three seasons there. He was dumped on August 31 of 2020 but quickly found a new home with the Bucs a week later.

Across those six seasons, Fournette has toted the rock 1,132 times, has rushed for 4,478 rushing yards, and has scored 41 total touchdowns.

The veteran running back has struggled to stay healthy throughout his professional football career (has missed 19 games). However last season he appeared in the most games he ever has in a single season (16).

A Clear Jets Coaching Connection

During Fournette’s time in Jacksonville, he overlapped for two seasons (2017-18) with current Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.

The highlight of that run was during the 2017 season. Hackett was Jacksonville’s offensive coordinator and he helped orchestrate the league’s top rushing attack. The Jaguars won the AFC South and were a handful of plays away from appearing in the Super Bowl that season.

That year was Fournette’s rookie campaign and he rushed for 1,040 yards, scored 10 total touchdowns, and was the straw that stirred the drink.

It’s unclear if the talented runner still has that kind of production left in him, but it’s clear he can still be a contributor in a running back by committee.

Over the last two seasons, his carries have been reduced but his production has been solid. If Fournette were to join the Jets this offseason he’d be expected to adopt a similar role in New York.

With the Jets, he wouldn’t have to be the man in the backfield, but he could be a key piece to the puzzle. Fourentte is already intimately familiar with Hackett’s system which would help accelerate the learning process.

If the Jets want to make a deep run this season, they’ll need multiple bodies in the backfield. The days of a true bell cow handling the entire workload are nearly extinct.

Fournette would also likely come very cheap. The last contract he signed in the NFL featured a base salary of just $2 million.

Spotrac’s market value projections expect the veteran to sign a deal with an annual salary of $2.3 million. If he landed that number it would rank No. 23 among running backs annual salary in the NFL in 2023.

The Jets top running back on the depth chart, Breece Hall, is recovering from a torn ACL. While the team is hopeful he’ll be ready by Week 1, it isn’t a guarantee.

Gang Green’s job is to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. If general manager Joe Douglas is able to do that, the Jets should be in the best position possible to maximize the 2023 season.

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