Buccaneers Make Decision on RB Leonard Fournette: Report

Leonard Fournette Buccaneers

Getty The Buccaneers are re-signing Leonard Fournette.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made a decision on the future of running back Leonard Fournette.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Bucs are signing Fournette to a three-year, $21 million deal worth up to $24 million.

“Sources: The #Bucs are re-signing RB Leonard Fournette, as more of Tom Brady’s friends return to Tampa,” says Rapoport. “He gets a 3-year deal worth $21M up to $24M.”

Fournette Clearly Buccaneers’ No. 1 RB

According to Jenna Laine of ESPN, Fournette will earn $11 million in guarantees. His $7 million yearly average is in line with James Conner’s contract with the Arizona Cardinals as the highest of any free agent running back this offseason.

The running back’s new deal will place him just outside of the top five among all running backs in yearly pay at No. 7.

Fournette receives a pay boost after earning a little more than $3 million during the 2021 season. The 27-year-old running back served in a two-back role with Ronald Jones before emerging as the clear-cut starter during the team’s Super Bowl run in 2020.

During the 2020 NFL playoffs, Fournette started all four games and ran for 300 yards and three touchdowns on 4.7 yards per carry.

Fournette continued that strong stretch with a productive 2021 season, running for 812 yards on 4.5 yards per carry while ranking third on the team with 69 receptions.

According to Pro Football Focus, Fournette posted a 80.0 rushing grade during the 2021 season, ranking 15th among all running backs.

The Buccaneers are certainly relieved Tom Brady is returning.

Brady concluded his short retirement by announcing his return to Tampa Bay less than two months after announcing his decision to walk away.

Due to Brady’s return, Tampa Bay was able to re-sign — such as Fournette — current players and lure free agents from other teams to the Buccaneers. Not only were the Buccaneers able to re-sign key players such as Ryan Jensen and Carlton Davis, but they also brought in veterans such as Russell Gage and Logan Ryan.

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Licht on Brady: He’s the ‘Ultimate Cheat Code’

Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht is aware that Brady is the “ultimate cheat code.”

“Well, it certainly helped,” Licht said. “When you have a player like Tom, who’s the greatest quarterback of all-time, if not player, players want to play with a guy like that. So, it certainly helped, I can’t lie. We’ve got the ultimate cheat code with Tom. So, we’re going to take advantage of it while we have it. I think players like it here, regardless. But, having a player like that throwing the ball to them, or even being on the other side of the ball knowing that he’s your quarterback, it certainly helps.”

The Buccaneers still have to re-sign Rob Gronkowski and have to sign players from the upcoming 2022 NFL draft class. Tampa Bay has a little less than $14 million in available salary cap space, according to Spotrac.

Licht doesn’t rule out the idea of extending Brady’s contract to free up additional salary cap space.

“We have some work to do, and we’ve got some plans,” he said. “There’s several ways to go about it, but I don’t want to get into too much of what we’re doing. We’ve got several alternatives that we can do, and we’re confident that we’ll be able to get it done.”

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