Bucs Insider Gives Revealing Update on Leonard Fournette: Report

Leonard Fournette

Getty Leonard Fournette still looking for his 2021 destination.

As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers secured another two starters for 2021 on Wednesday, more uncertainty surfaced for star running back Leonard Fournette.

Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times reported that the Bucs and Fournette’s representatives have “made no real headway” toward a new deal. The former fourth overall draft pick remains a free agent more than a week into the new league year. Tampa re-signed defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and extended offensive tackle Donovan Smith on Wednesday.

Tampa reportedly had been in talks with Fournette’s representatives as early as March 16, during the league’s legal free agent tampering period, per ESPN’s Jenna Laine. The four-year veteran completed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the team for the 2020 season per Over The Cap.

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Free Agency Roller Coaster

Things looked a little more promising for Fournette going into the week when Bucs wide receiver and workout partner Antonio Brown told Bucs Tracker “me and ‘Playoff Lenny’ are gonna work this out.”

Brown, also a free agent, hasn’t re-signed with the Bucs or another team yet either. Brown still has legal issues, including three teams he’s played for potentially being subpoenaed for his civil case.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said on the “Pat McAfee Show” the Bucs could be offering Brown a one-year “prove it deal” but noted that the Seattle Seahawks quarterback Rusell Wilson’s pursuit of Brown could go somewhere.

Fournette likewise has other suitors in free agency. The New England Patriots notably showed interest in Fournette per Rapoport on Monday. That was before James White committed to re-signing with the Patriots on Wednesday per NFL Network’s Adam Schefter. The former LSU star also received a “strong offer”  from the Seattle Seahawks last week per Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. The Seahawks later decided to re-sign running back Chris Carson to a three-year, $24.625 million contract.

Laine noted that Fournette finding a great deal in the running back market won’t’ come easy. Since Aaron Jones re-signed with the Green Bay Packers for “$12 million per season”, every running back has signed or re-signed for significantly less, she wrote.

Fournette showed his value in the playoffs after a quiet regular season of 97 carries, 367 yards, and six touchdowns. He rushed 64 times for 330 yards and three touchdowns in the playoffs and caught 18 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown. His playoff numbers put him among playoff greats as the “Playoff Lenny” nickname evolved.

Bucs Backfield in Flux

Fournette leaving in free agency wouldn’t decimate the Bucs’ backfield with veteran Ronald Jones II returning. The former USC star came shy of 1,000 yards last season with 978 yards and seven touchdowns on 192 carries in 14 games. He also caught 28 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown. He had a quiet postseason with 139 yards on 35 carries and no receptions amid a quad injury that occurred before the Wild Card round.

Tampa also has other options in free agency and the draft. The Bucs had shown interest White, who had a lot of postseason success with Bucs quarterback Tom Brady in the past. The Bucs also interviewed draft prospect Demetric Felton of UCLA per Justin Melo of the Draft Network, who noted Felton’s versatility. Alabama’s Najee Harris has been a popular pick for the Bucs among experts’ mock drafts at No. 32 per Buccaneers.com’s Carmen Viali.

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