There was a time this offseason when there was quite a lot of uncertainty for the Bucs. After Tom Brady introduced his retirement in February, it felt like a foregone conclusion that among the staff’s pending free brokers would find yourself elsewhere.
A type of pending free brokers was working again Leonard Fournette. The person who was so key in Tampa Bay’s Tremendous Bowl run — in addition to its success final season — was certain to discover a huge contract elsewhere. In spite of everything, the Bucs couldn’t justifiably convey him again once they had so many different precedence free brokers. However then, when Brady introduced his return simply 40 days after his retirement started, all the things modified once more.
The Bucs, realizing their Tremendous Bowl window was open for one more 12 months, introduced everybody again. That features Fournette, who signed a three-year, $21 million deal a little bit greater than per week after Brady’s announcement.
Fournette was nonetheless within the technique of determining his future when his quarterback of the final two years made his choice. In reality, he was visiting with Brady’s former staff and weighing the potential for changing into a New England Patriot.
“I used to be simply purchasing round, man, simply seeing what most closely fits me,” Fournette mentioned Tuesday. “When [Brady] signed again, he referred to as me and was like ‘Man, what’s your ass doing up there, man?’ I’m like, ‘I’m making an attempt to determine some issues out.’ He signed again and it was a no brainer. You already know, why wouldn’t I’m going again [to Tampa]?”
What Makes Fournette’s Return A No-Brainer?
It’s no shock to anybody that Fournette would need to maintain enjoying with Brady. In fact, Brady was one of many major causes — if not the rationale — the previous Jacksonville Jaguar signed with Tampa Bay in 2020.
Fournette didn’t catch on all that shortly with the Bucs. However a late-season chat with then-head coach Bruce Arians received his thoughts proper. The remaining is historical past. With an damage to Ronald Jones II, Fournette stepped in and stepped up. He was a hero of the playoffs, correctly incomes the nicknames of “Playoff Lenny” and later “Lombardi Lenny.”
Then, with Jones largely a non-factor in 2021, Fournette assumed the position of a three-down again within the Bucs’ offense. He posted 812 yards on 180 carries (4.5 avg.) and eight touchdowns on the bottom. However his contributions within the passing recreation have been the large key to him staying on the sector, as he caught 69 passes for 454 yards (6.6 avg.) and two extra scores.
Fournette has a longtime reference to Brady. It was on full show final 12 months, as the large working again usually turned an outlet for Brady when he was beneath strain or when nothing else was open. The connection between the 2 has given Fournette a capability to ad-lib, which he admits can typically get him into hassle. However that relationship and understanding between the 2 permits him to make performs out of the backfield.
“I suppose the bond we’ve through the years, simply realizing him and realizing one another,” Fournette mentioned. “It additionally comes from, we’ve been working towards, throwing the ball, going over quite a lot of issues. It comes naturally within the recreation when it’s sudden.”
Fournette Not Stunned About Brady’s Return From Retirement
Everybody appears to have had a special learn on Brady’s transient retirement. Ask any participant or coach and also you’re prone to get a special opinion, whether or not they have been stunned to see Brady step again out of retirement or in the event that they knew he would all alongside.
Rely Fournette amongst those that at all times believed the seven-time Tremendous Bowl champion would in the end come again for his twenty third NFL season.
“I sort of knew. As a result of I advised him previous to, I need to say two days after the [Rams] recreation, I’m like ‘T, we are able to’t exit like that.’ And he agreed with me. We left too many errors on the sector that sort of messed us up and we have been enjoying catch up the entire recreation,” Fournette mentioned. “I feel as a champion, I knew he wouldn’t need to exit like that for his legacy.”