4 best destinations for Leonard Fournette

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have several key contributors coming to market during NFL free agency. Leonard Fournette is at the top of the list. The LSU product has spent the past two seasons in Tampa Bay, and he’s spearheaded the rushing offense since the 2020 Super Bowl run.

Fournette will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Although he likely wants to return to the Bucs, several other NFL teams might be willing to offer him more money.

The fifth-year running back is the best available at the position, so disadvantaged teams should make a strong push for Fournette once free agency opens.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Leonard Fournette of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers warms up before the game against the Los Angeles Rams | Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Leonard Fournette has been an integral part of the Buccaneers offense for the past two seasons. It started to heat up in the 2020 playoffs and the momentum carried through to the 2021 regular season.

Fournette rushed for 812 yards and eight touchdowns on 180 carries in 2021. He also had 69 receptions for 454 yards and two other scores. Tampa Bay’s offense featured plenty of talented weapons, but the running back made the most of his opportunities.

The Bucs have just over $6.7 million in cap space heading into the offseason. They are below league average and have other free agents on the roster. As good as Leonard Fournette was, he is not irreplaceable. Ke’Shawn Vaughn has shown flashes on limited occasions. Ronald Jones II is also a free agent, but his price won’t be as high as Fournette’s.

Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins have a big hole in running back heading into the offseason. Myles Gaskin led the team with 612 yards and three touchdowns on 173 rushing attempts. Duke Johnson, Phillip Lindsay and Malcolm Brown are unrestricted free agents, but neither player is a long-term answer.

Leonard Fournette could walk straight into the Dolphins locker room and take over from day one. Miami looks set to move forward with Tua Tagovailoa as the starting quarterback. Having a guy like Fournette, who has valuable big game experience, could do wonders for his development.

The Dolphins front office neglected to add quality running backs throughout the draft. The Bucs star would bring some stability to the job as Mike McDaniel enters his first season as head coach.

Buffalo Tickets

The Buffalo Bills have been one of the best teams in the AFC for the past three seasons. Sean McDermott’s team again missed the Super Bowl after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Adding a player of Leonard Fournette’s caliber to the NFL’s free agency could help Buffalo weather the storm. The Bills ranked sixth in the NFL in rushing offense, recording 129.9 yards per game. Devin Singletary led the way, rushing for 870 yards and seven touchdowns. However, Zack Moss failed to make a leap forward in his second season.

Fournette is a bigger fullback who has the skills to take the attack to another level. Josh Allen plays a huge role in the Bills’ rushing offense. The Bucs running back could relieve the franchise quarterback in crucial moments of a game.

Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals will have some interesting decisions to make this offseason, especially when it comes to running backs. James Conner and Chase Edmonds will enter the free agent market. Both players are expected to generate significant interest once NFL free agency opens, and the Cardinals are unlikely to bring both back.

Leonard Fournette would fit in well in Kliff Kingsbury’s attack. He played a similar role in Tampa Bay to what Conner played in Arizona during the 2021 season. The former LSU Tigers star served as a versatile back on the Bucs’ offense. His ability to catch passes out of the backfield makes him a valuable asset in a high-volume passing program.

Kyler Murray’s status with the team is up in the air. However, if the star quarterback stays put, he and Fournette could work just fine. Sure, the Cardinals would love to get their guys back, but adding the 27-year-old stopper could be a worthwhile investment.

All statistics courtesy of Professional Football Reference

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Christy J. Olson