Patriots Host Super Bowl Champion RB for Free Agent Visit: Report

Leonard Fournette

Getty The Patriots hosted RB Leonard Fournette for a free agent visit on March 21, 2022.

Update: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Leonard Fournette have agreed to a three-year, $21 million contract, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Tuesday, March 22.

The New England Patriots are showing interest in a big name on the open market entering the second week of NFL free agency. According to a report from ESPN’s Field Yates, the Patriots hosted Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette for a visit on Monday, March 21.

Visiting New England alongside Fournette is Tennesse Titans cornerback and former Patriots Super Bowl hero, Malcolm Butler, as first reported by Ben Volin of The Boston Globe. 

After being cut by Jacksonville only three seasons after being selected fourth overall in 2017, “Playoff Lenny” revived his career in Tampa Bay, playing two seasons and winning the 2021 Super Bowl alongside Tom Brady. 

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Does Fournette Have Anything Left in the Tank?

In 2021, Tampa Bay’s rushing attack ranked 26th overall in average yards per game (98.4), while New England’s (126.5) ranked 8th overall, according to ESPN. In Tampa, Fournette split carries with Ronald Jones, but more than doubled up his counterpart on the stat sheet despite missing 2 games.

After a career-low 133 touches in 2022, Fournette found ways to be effective in all facets of the Bucs’ offense, running for 812 yards and 8 touchdowns on 180 carries. Not primarily known for his receiving ability coming out of college, the 27-year-old also managed to catch 69 passes for 454 yards and 2 touchdowns — his first time totaling 10 touchdowns since his rookie season in 2017.

While Fournette may not be the powerhouse he once was, his style still fits the identity the Patriots are looking to embrace going forward as they continue to rebuild around quarterback Mac Jones.

Like he did for fellow power back LeGarrette Blount from 2013 to 2016, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick could find ways to effectively utilize Fournette’s talents in certain packages on offense, which looked like a goal-line unit at times in 2021.

Examining the Patriots’ Potential Running Back Room

If the Patriots acquire Fournette, their offseason roster would feature six running backs, including Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, James White, J.J. Taylor and newly signed swiss-army knife Ty Montgomery.

Harris, 25, led the way for New England in 2021 with 929 rushing yards (4.6 YPC) and 15 touchdowns, tied for the second-most among all running backs.

With long-time Patriot Brandon Bolden moving on to the Las Vegas Raiders to rejoin Josh McDaniels, New England’s new pickups would essentially help offset any lost production.

While this room may not be the most talented throughout the league, it could prove to be the most diverse backfield in all of football in 2022. If Fournette is signed, the Patriots would have three downhill runners in Harris, Fournette and Stevenson. However, they’d also have three backs in Taylor, White, and Montgomery who are shifty and can be utilized in both the running and passing attack.

Fournette would also be a veteran voice, similar to James White, who can bring added experience to help New England’s younger backs development going forward.

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