The Tampa Bay Buccaneers face difficult decisions at running back with both Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones hitting free agency. With free agency days away, Fournette is turning heads regarding his future with the Buccaneers. The star running back posted what could be interpreted as a farewell message with a March 8 Instagram post.
“They could never say I didn’t give it my all every time I suited up, didn’t really have time to reflect on the season but I’m thankful appreciate my teammates, coaches, family, fans for everything #PlayoffLenny,” Fournette noted.
Fournette also posted a cryptic message on Twitter that prompted speculation that his future with the Bucs is very much uncertain.
“No matter what happens i know God got me fasho………,” Fournette tweeted on March 8.
Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud pointed out that Fournette’s message sounds like an indication that the running back is “moving on.”
“Bucs RB Leonard Fournette gets reflective about his two years in Tampa Bay on IG a week before free agency. Sounds like he anticipates moving on,” Stroud tweeted on March 8.
Here is a look at Fournette’s post that has Bucs fans’ attention.
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Licht: ‘We’ll Be Looking at All Options at Running Back’
During the NFL Combine, Bucs general manager Jason Licht did not sound like the team is expecting to bring back Jones. Licht indicated that Tampa Bay will be “looking at all options at running back.”
“We’ll be looking at all options at running back,” Licht told JoeBucsFan.com on March 1. “Appreciate Ronald for what he’s done. Had a great year for us two years ago, the year before. But we’ll have to see what the market bears and we’ll have to see where we’re at.”
Fournette Is Projected to Land a 2-Year, $15 Million Contract
Pro Football Focus has Fournette as the No. 2 ranked free-agent running back and No. 68 across all positions. Fournette is projected to land a two-year, $15 million contract with $9 million guaranteed.
The challenge for the Buccaneers is the team is already slated to be $10.8 million over the cap. This does not factor in Tampa Bay making a potential move at quarterback. If Pro Football Focus’ projections come close to proving true, a $7 million salary is a lot to pay at running back given the declining value of the position across the NFL.
The Bucs Met With at Least 10 Running Backs at the NFL Combine: Report
Perhaps, Fournette was simply in a reflective mood, and the Buccaneers are able to bring back the star rusher. If that is not the case, the Buccaneers only realistic replacement option on the roster is Ke’Shawn Vaughn.
According to Pewter Report’s Jon Ledyard, the Buccaneers met with at least ten running backs in Indianapolis. The Athletic’s Greg Auman believes the writing is on the wall for changes at the position in 2022.
“I’d think Vaughn is in the mix with a draft pick and/or inexpensive veteran,” Auman tweeted on March 9. “Curious if they go after David Johnson at all.”