Leonard Fournette re-signs with Buccaneers: NFL Insider Josina Anderson is reporting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have re-signed RB Leonard Fournette to a one-year deal that is worth “up to" $4 million.
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RB Leonard Fournette just told me "I am re-signing with the #Bucs," over facetime.
— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 26, 2021
Leonard Fournette Re-Signs with Buccaneers
In unprecedented fashion, the Buccaneers have become the first team in the free-agency era to retain all 22 starting personnel from their Super Bowl-winning team with the re-signing of RB Leonard Fournette. While Fournette, 26, had other suitors and passed up more money to re-sign with Tampa Bay, there are no guarantees he will step into a starting role on the 2021 Buccaneers’ backfield.
Along with Fournette, the Buccaneers still employ both Ronald Jones and Ke’Shawn Vaughn. In the most recent report out of Tampa in terms of the running back position, HC Bruce Arians suggested that Vaughn could have a breakout year. Barring injuries to Fournette and Jones, who played roughly 80 percent of the team’s offensive snaps at running back last season, Vaughn will merely be a blip on the radar. Tampa Bay’s backfield will be dominated by Fournette and Jones.
The Buccaneers’ running back conundrum will be one to watch in 2021. Since Fournette and Jones will essentially be playing on one-year deals — Fournette only re-signed for one year while Jones is entering the walk-year of his rookie contract — Vaughn is the only back who is expected to be under contract for 2022.
However, what happens in 2022 doesn’t matter at the moment. The Buccaneers are focusing on winning their second consecutive Super Bowl and third in franchise history in as many appearances. Despite their loaded passing attack, the running back position is imperative to Tampa’s success.
In the 2020 regular season, Fournette and Jones combined for 1,743 yards and 14 touchdowns on 353 touches, averaging 4.9 yards per touch and give games with 100+ rushing yards. Fournette, however, really broke out in the postseason. In the 2020-2021 playoffs, Fournette was arguably the best running back in football.
With Jones ailing, Fournette was asked to man the Buccaneers’ backfield and delivered above and beyond expectations. In his final nine games since Week 11, Fournette managed eight total touchdowns. Meanwhile, in the aforementioned playoffs, Fournette accumulated yardage totals of 132, 107, 74 and 135 with one touchdown per game sequentially since Wild Card Weekend and ending in the team’s Super Bowl 55 victory.
I don’t believe Fournette will be the unquestioned starter in Tampa Bay’s backfield — he will cede touches to Jones and/or the team will roll with the hot hand — but I do think he will be a tremendous factor and contributor to the team’s 2021 success.
For Jones, he is always one fumble, drop, or pass-protection mishap from landing in Arians’ dog house, which bodes well for Fournette’s overall outlook in 2021.
Buccaneers 2021 NFL Betting Outlook
Buccaneers Super Bowl 56 Winner (+525)
The Buccaneers have the second-best odds to win Super Bowl 56 at (+525) compared to the Kansas City Chiefs, who are slated at (+500). Since the Bucs are returning all 22 starters. Plus, the fact that they are close to retaining WR Antonio Brown and getting TE O.J. Howard back from injury, the 2021 Bucs could be even better than their 2020 Super Bowl squad. Moreover, their path to a championship could be even easier taking into consideration the retirement of Drew Brees and that the Saints, Tampa’s 2020 Achilles heel, are in a short-term rebuild.
While Kansas City is the odds-on favorite to emerge for the third straight season in the AFC, the Buccaneers exposed them in the Super Bowl. While the Chiefs did shake up their offensive line in the wake of their Super Bowl disaster, the Buccaneers are the better team, as long as No. 12 remains healthy and Father Time does not catch up to him.
I am all-in on a Buccaneers’ repeat, which is where my money has gone since Super Bowl 56 odds were posted at PointsBet following Super Bowl 55. It pains me to say this as a Cowboys fan at heart, but you can’t change the facts. The Buccaneers are primed to repeat.