Rob Gronkowski Touts Former Bucs Star Amid Speculation

Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski believes Leonard Fournette still has a lot left.

As former Tampa Bay Buccaneers star running back Leonard Fournette remains unsigned, fellow former Bucs star tight end Rob Gronkowski sees potential.

“Lenny is an absolute tank who’s versatile to be a three-down back and make a big play when you need it the most,” Gronkowski told The Score’s Jordan Schultz. “His unique skill set in the pass game at the size he is makes him a mismatch at all times.”

Gronkowski knows Fournette well as a player since the two competed together with the Bucs in 2020 and 2021. Fournette emerged as a playoff superstar in the 2020 postseason, but his regression and big contract led to his release after the 2022 season.

Schultz proposed the Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, and New England Patriots as “best fits” for Fournette. Last season, Fournette rushed for 668 yards and three touchdowns, but he also caught 73 passes for 523 yards and three scores.

“Gronk specifically mentioned that Fournette provides a certain comfort and reliability in the game’s biggest moments,” Schultz wrote. “Not only is that hard to find, but it has a domino effect on the entire offense, regardless of who’s under center.”

“Considering his elite pass-protection ability and soft hands out of the backfield, Fournette — only 28 — still brings a lot to the table at this stage in his career,” Schultz added.

Fournette simply got cut loose in the worst possible year. The NFL has a dearth of notable available running backs due to big contracts: Ezekiel Elliott, Dalvin Cook, and Kareem Hunt.

“The NFL’s running back market has never experienced such an immense dead zone financially,” Schultz wrote. “Ironically, running the football hasn’t been this in vogue in more than a decade, with rushing attempts across the NFL hitting an 11-year high in 2022.”

When and where Fournette lands remains to be seen, but he could wait until a need arises during training camp, which kicks off next month. However, if teams continue on last year’s trajectory for running the ball, Fournette can find a roster spot somewhere.

Bucs a Fit for Ezekiel Elliott, Jordan Schultz Says

Among available running backs, Schultz considers Elliott a good option for Tampa Bay. The Bucs had a league-worst rushing attack in 2022, and only second-year back Rachaad White had a substantial rushing load.

“He’s still a good player. He’s still gonna help you win football games,” an unnamed NFL executive told Schultz. “I think he’s been one of the best pass-pro running backs during his career. That’s a ‘want-to’ thing, and he’s always had that desire.”

“You’re not signing him to be the player he was at 23, 24 years old. And that’s okay. He can still shoulder the load when you need him to. I don’t really have doubts about that,” the executive added.

Leonard Fournette Still Not Over Postseason Loss

Amid Fournette’s recent appearance on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football“, recounted something that arguably bothers him more than waiting for a new team. That’s the 2017 AFC Championship Game loss to the Patriots.

Fournette, a rookie with the Jacksonville Jaguars at the time, and had a shot at the Super Bowl before a late rally by the Patriots, 24-20. Then-Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack stripped the ball in the fourth quarter when his team had a 20-10 lead, but the referees called the play dead before the fumble counted.

“Myles Jack was not down,” Fournette told the GMFB hosts. “That’s the famous quote we always say. He was not down.”

The Patriots, led by quarterback Tom Brady at the time, scored on that drive instead. Brady and Fournette ironically joined forces in Tampa in 2020, which led to a Super Bowl win and two NFC South division titles.

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