The New England Patriots expressed some interest in free agent running back Leonard Fournette this week, and even brought him in for a visit on Monday. However, Fournette’s stay in Foxborough was a short one: just one day later, the 27-year-old re-signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
According to a report NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Fournette agreed to a three-year contract worth $21 million to stay in Tampa Bay.
Whether or not the Patriots offered Fournette a contract is not known at this time, but it is no stretch of the imagination that they likely would not have matched the Buccaneers’. New England, after all, has made only minor investments so far this offseason and also is deep at the running back position even after losing Brandon Bolden to the Las Vegas Raiders.
The team employs Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson as its primary early-down backs, with recently re-signed James White and veteran free agency addition Ty Montgomery serving as the projected top-two receivers out of the backfield. New England furthermore has J.J. Taylor and Devine Ozigbo on its roster as depth options.
Nonetheless, Fournette was brought in by the team on Monday. The former first-round draft pick was among a group of free agent visits that also included cornerback Malcolm Butler, offensive lineman Ryan Bates and quarterback Joshua Dobbs.
So far, none of them has agreed to a contract with the Patriots. Bates, a restricted free agent, is scheduled to visit the Chicago Bears later this week.
Fournette, meanwhile, will return to his previous stomping grounds. Originally entering the NFL as a first-round draft choice by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017, he found his way to Tampa Bay in 2020. Earning the nickname “Playoff Lenny,” he helped the team win a Super Bowl in his first season and later re-signed to spend the 2021 season as a Buccaneer as well.
In total, Fournette has appeared in 71 regular season and playoff games and has touched the football 1,363 times for a combined 6,347 yards and 45 touchdowns.