The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will kick off the 2023 season with a unique beginning backfield following quarterback Tom Brady’s retirement. The group launched veteran operating again Leonard Fournette formally on Friday.
Fournette instructed the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday that he “requested after the season to be (launched) they usually revered my needs. So no dangerous blood.”
The 28-year-old rusher re-signed with Tampa Bay on a three-year, $21 million contract final offseason after enjoying for the group on one-year offers in 2020 and 2021. The launch was partially wage cap motivated since he had $2 million left in totally assured cash on his deal in addition to $2 million roster bonus on March 19. Now, the Buccaneers can redistribute his cap hit throughout a number of seasons to minimize the burden.
The fourth total decide of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Fournette joined the Buccaneers proper earlier than the beginning of the 2020 following a launch, and he was an integral a part of their Super Bowl LV championship group as he totaled 4 touchdowns throughout their postseason run — three speeding and one receiving. In 2021, Fournette was considered one of solely 4 gamers with over 800 speeding yards and 400 receiving yards, becoming a member of New Orleans Saints operating again Alvin Kamara, Los Angeles Chargers operating again Austin Ekeler and Pittsburgh Steelers operating again Najee Harris.
However, Fournette’s 2022 season bought off to a rocky begin when he confirmed up obese to the group’s OTAs and obligatory minicamp final offseason. He went on to common 3.5 yards per carry in 2022, the bottom of his Buccaneers profession and the second-lowest quantity in all the NFL that season amongst certified rushers, forward of solely New York Jets operating again Michael Carter. His dual-threat talents as each a rusher and receiver nonetheless shined, although, as he was solely considered one of three gamers in all the league final season with over 650 speeding yards (668) and over 500 receiving yards (523) together with San Francisco 49ers operating again Christian McCaffrey and Ekeler.
Now, Fournette is considered one of many choices groups can seize as a way to fill out their operating again rooms for 2023. Below, try a few of the intriguing touchdown spots that may very well be out there to the veteran now that he is on the open market.
The Buffalo Bills must take a few of Josh Allen’s speeding makes an attempt off his plate for his long-term well being. His 124 carries in 2022 have been greater than Cleveland Browns operating again Kareem Hunt and the third most amongst all quarterbacks, trailing solely the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts (165) and the Bears’ Justin Fields. Allen was productive as his 5,045 whole yards and 42 whole touchdowns have been each the second most within the league behind MVP Patrick Mahomes. However, a symptom of Allen doing every part was him main the NFL with 19 turnovers, a stat a quarterback by no means desires to be related to.
The Bills have tried to seek out options within the backfield between Devin Singletary, Zack Moss, Nyheim Hines and James Cook. None have stood out in a serious approach to date. Fournette may present a dual-purpose again Allen may lean on each close to the aim line and within the passing recreation.
The Cincinnati Bengals’ dependable No. 2 operating again and powerful move blocker Samaje Perine is gone, having signed a two-year, $7.5 million contract with the Denver Broncos. Fournette may very well be an ideal substitute. He thrived throughout the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl run in 2020, so the brilliant lights would not part him ought to Cincy make a run once more in 2023. He could be a dependable blocker and punishing possibility within the Bengals backfield.
With NFL scrimmage touchdowns chief Austin Ekeler trying right into a commerce after voicing frustration about his contract scenario, Fournette may very well be a decrease finances substitute for him alongside Justin Herbert. He brings the same skillset as Ekeler in a bigger package deal, one thing that would profit the Chargers within the crimson zone the place they ranked seventeenth in crimson zone landing share (54.1%) in 2022.
With Cam Akers set to enter the ultimate season of his rookie deal, Fournette may very well be a pleasant complement with Malcolm Brown hitting the market. Even although the Rams need to shed cap hits with the discharge of Bobby Wagner and the reported curiosity in buying and selling Jalen Ramsey’s contract, Los Angeles would possibly be capable of get Fournette on a decrease quantity than anticipated given the saturation of operating backs in free company. He may very well be the thunder to Akers’ lightning as head coach Sean McVay could choose to go for a extra run-heavy method in 2023 given quarterback Matthew Stafford’s accidents in 2022.
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