The Bucs have heavily addressed wide receiver and offensive line this offseason. Conceivably, running back could be next. Would that mean the return of Leonard Fournette?
Tampa Bay still has a couple holes to fill at running back. Only third-year player Ke’Shawn Vaughn is under contract for the 2022 season. There are a couple of different avenues the Bucs could go to at the position, but another reunion with Fournette would be welcomed.
General manager Jason Licht addressed this possibility when speaking on Monday. He’s open to it, but not guaranteeing anything either.
“I’d say that we’ll continue talks with a lot of our players,” Licht said. “We’ll do the best we can. We’d love to have Leonard back.”
The RB Free Agency Market
It’ll really come down to the money with Fournette. He’s hitting the free agency market for the second year in a row, but isn’t exactly finding the type of contract he would like. Running backs Cordarrelle Patterson, Chase Edmonds and James Connor have already signed deals ranging from five to seven million per year.
If Fournette is looking for that, it might be too rich for the Bucs. They’ve made a lot of moves to open up cap space, but with a need to re-sign Rob Gronkowski, Ndamukong Suh and others, it might be at Fournette’s expense.
Fournette reportedly is meeting with the Patriots on Monday. But that’s his first visit of free agency. The longer that he’s a free agent, the better the Bucs of retaining him.
Tampa Bay will most likely draft at least one running back in April. They’ll still need to add a third down back and another to put on the depth chart. Vaughn showed flashes last year towards the end of the season, but the Bucs would like a competition for the lead running back spot heading into next season.
There’s no question that the Bucs like Fournette and he’s enjoyed his time in Tampa Bay. A return to the red and pewter can’t be ruled out. But if he departed for another team with a better deal, it wouldn’t be shocking.