Super Bowl Winner Would Add ‘Receiving Element’ to Patriots’ Offense

Leonard Fournette

Getty A Super Bowl-winning free agent can add a "receiving element" missing from the New England Patriots' offense.

DeAndre Hopkins subbed the New England Patriots, but that doesn’t mean head coach Bill Belichick should be done searching free agency for help. Hopkins would’ve improved the Pats’ talent at wide receiver, but Belichick could compensate for weakness at the position by doubling down at running back with a Super Bowl winner who would “add a receiving element out of the Patriots’ backfield.”

Leonard Fournette is still searching for a new home, but’s Conor Roche believes the 28-year-old’s versatility should appeal to Belichick: “Fournette had 142 receptions over the last two seasons.”

Fournette is also still a capable runner, despite not being brought back by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He helped the latter win a Super Bowl alongside Patriots’ legend Tom Brady in 2020, thanks largely to clutch postseason performances that earned Fournette the nickname “Playoff Lenny.”

He hasn’t been as effective since, but Fournette can still be a force between the tackles. Fournette would be an excellent complement to New England’s lead workhorse Rhamondre Stevenson, while also providing a true pass-catcher at the position following the brief and abandoned James Robinson experiment.

Cap-Rich Patriots Have Room for Proven Touchdown Maker

Making room for Fournette won’t be a problem when the Patriots have $15,901,332 worth of space under the salary cap, according to Using a portion of those funds to pay for a two-year deal for a player with Fournette’s knack for scoring touchdowns would be money well spent.

Finding the end zone has never been a problem for the player selected fourth overall in the 2017 NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fournette scored four touchdowns en route to the Bucs winning Super Bowl LV, putting himself in select company in the process, per ESPN Stats & Info.

While his overall numbers were down in 2022, Fournette still produced six touchdowns. Three of those came through the air, while the others were scored on the ground.

One of those rushing TDs occurred against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 8.

The play showcased how effectively 6-foot, 228-pound Fournette can still move the pile at the goal-line. Putting Fournette into the lineup would give the Patriots another threat in the red zone, or at least a decoy to draw defenses away from Stevenson, tight end Mike Gesicki or wide receiver Tyquan Thornton.

This will still be Stevenson’s running game after his breakout, 1,040-yard campaign a year ago. Yet, there’s room for somebody to emerge as the Patriots’ primary pass-catching back.

Veteran Has Skills Patriots Need

The Patriots’ offense has lacked a prolific receiver out of the backfield since James White called time on his career before last season. White believes Ty Montgomery can emerge as the next “sub back” in Belichick’s system, but a lengthy injury record could scupper Montgomery’s chances.

Robinson might have made this key role his own, but the Patriots cut bait mere months after signing the 24-year-old from AFC East rivals the New York Jets. There are other options on the veteran market, including former NFL rushing champion Kareem Hunt, a name also mentioned by Roche, but Fournette may be the safest choice.

The latter proved his worth as a receiver by catching 73 of Brady’s passes last season. One of Fournette’s most prolific games came against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 5, when he showcased his perfect efficiency in the flat, per Next Gen Stats.

Fournette turned 26 of his catches into first downs, according to Pro Football Reference, so he’d be the kind of chain-mover Patriots’ quarterback Mac Jones needs. Hopkins was a great fit for that role, but his decision to sign with the Tennessee Titans still leaves Jones needing more targets.

The Patriots didn’t get near to matching the Titans’ offer for Hopkins, so perhaps Belichick has bigger priorities in terms of recruitment. Adding Fournette would provide somebody capable of splitting carries with Stevenson, and also able to offer Jones an invaluable outlet.