Bucs running back Leonard Fournette spoke with the media for the first time since re-signing with Tampa Bay. A year after signing a one-year deal worth $2 million plus incentives, Fournette re-upped with the Bucs for one more year for $3.25 million after testing the water in free agency and not finding a better situation elsewhere.
“It was a difficult process,” Fournette said. “I know what I deserve, I believe in myself and I just wanted to come back and enjoy myself instead of being a new face on the block. I came back to the team that I enjoyed my process with. Me coming to this team kind of humbled me a lot, coming to a team that had so much talent. You get used to being ‘that guy’ on the team. It helped develop me as a better man, too. I could have went somewhere and got some more money. I just think this is the place right now for me.”
Fournette talked about his looming battle in training camp with Ronald Jones II for the right to start in 2021. Jones led Tampa Bay with a career-high 978 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Yet Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said that all starting positions are open in 2021, including running back where Jones and Fournette split carries last year. Arians also believes Ke’Shawn Vaughn is ready to break out in 2021.
“We’re going to camp and we’ll have to compete,” Fournette said. “Nothing is promised to anyone. I’ve been here before and I understand about competing. It’s like college. Do you know what I mean? Right now, we’re just training and getting our bodies right. It’s just coming in and knowing that we’ll have to start all over and compete for that starting job. It’s going to be a great one.”
Fournette rushed for 367 yards and six touchdowns on 97 carries (3.8 avg.) in the regular season in his first year in Tampa Bay. When Jones broke his pinkie late in the season and went on the COVID-19 list, Fournette took over as the team’s starting back in the postseason. Fournette rushed for 300 yards and three touchdowns on 64 carries (4.7 avg.) in four games, including Super Bowl LV.
He became the first player in Bucs history and one of the few NFL players to score a touchdown in all four postseason games, including Super Bowl LV.
Fournette took over the role of the Bucs’ third-down back, catching 36 passes for 233 yards (6.5 avg.) during the season. He added 18 catches for 148 yards (8.2 avg.) and one touchdown in the playoffs.
After earning the nickname “Playoff Lenny” for his remarkable run during the Bucs’ three playoff wins on the road, Fournette has recently been dubbed “Lombardi Lenny” after scoring a touchdown in Super Bowl LV. When asked which nickname he prefers, Fournette was quick with his answer.
“Well, my guys at Barstool [Sports] came up with Playoff Lenny,” Fournette said. “I’ll take Lombardi Lenny right now.”
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org