Leonard Fournette joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should put them well into the Super Bowl conversation.
Multiple outlets reported Wednesday night that running back Leonard Fournette signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The deal is worth $3.5 million on a one-year deal with incentives, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
— NFL (@NFL) September 3, 2020
— 7⃣ Leonard Fournette (@_fournette) September 3, 2020
Fournette was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars Monday after the team attempted to trade him this offseason. He was the Jaguars’ first-round pick in 2017 with an up and down experience in Jacksonville. During his three seasons in the NFL, Fournette ran for over 1,000 yards in two of three seasons. Issues with consistency and with Jacksonville’s management resulted in the change happening.
Tampa Bay has brought in multiple running backs from free agency and the draft this offseason. Most notably, LeSean McCoy signed with the Buccaneers last month to serve as a role player in the offense. The Buccaneers also drafted Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Raymond Calais in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Where Leonard Fournette Fits With Buccaneers Running Back Rotation
The Buccaneers brought in Leonard Fournette to help improve their running game. Tampa Bay already has two backs in Ronald Jones and McCoy who are more than capable of playing well. Despite Fournette’s proven track record, coach Bruce Arians have already announced that he will start Jones at running back.
Tampa Bay HC Bruce Arians: Ronald Jones is Bucs’ starting RB, despite Leonard Fournette signing:https://t.co/MEw9pUeNtA
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 3, 2020
“When you can get a player of that caliber — I got great reviews from people that know him and who have coached him — he’ll fit right in, and we’ll see what role happens and how fast it can happen,” Arians said Thursday of Fournette. “But RoJo’s our guy, Shady [McCoy] is ready for his role, so it’s just gonna be building roles as we go along and having enough quality players to finish this thing.”
The move is a surprise since Fournette has performed better than Jones last season. Fournette had more rushing yards, catches, and receiving yards than Jones did. The difference between the two backs is Fournette has more experience than Jones does in their young careers.
McCoy was always going to be one of the team’s backup running backs. Jones and Fournette will most likely split reps at running back with Jones being the outside runner. Fournette was brought in to be the downhill runner the Buccaneers have been missing on the roster.
Is Fournette the Long Term Solution?
For at least the 2020 NFL season, Tom Brady has a stacked running game that should be top ten in the league. The combination of Jones and Fournette could make for a great duo for the future. There will be questions regarding if Fournette is okay being the backup to Jones.
Arians have made it seem like Jones will start for the future which could give him more carries than Fournette. For Fournette, he’s on a one year deal which gives him the option to test the free agent market next offseason. The role that he will play this season should be enough to prove that he can play consistently well throughout the season.
Adding Fournette was a smart, short term solution for the Buccaneers, but it doesn’t ensure they have their future running back. That will depend on how he and Jones play this season.