Opinion: Fournette signing brings question for BUCCANEERS running backs

Leonard Fournette signed a one-year deal worth up to $3.5 million with incentives with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday.

The signing not only brings a lot of questions to the countless other running backs on the roster, but it also shows that the Buccaneers continue to go “all-in” for the 2020 season. 

Sure the Fournette signing provides an abundance of help for Tom Brady. Still, the Buccaneers also have LeSean McCoy, Ronald Jones, and Dare Ogunbowale before drafting both Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Raymond Calais in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Jones was named the starter at the beginning of camp, and McCoy has done well learning the playbook after being signed nearly one month ago.

Now that is quite the backfield down in Tampa Bay, so people should be bracing themselves for the news that someone may be cut within the coming days. 

But what does Fournette bring to the Buccaneers that separate himself from Jones and McCoy? 

Fournette ran for 1,000 twice in his career (2017 and 2019) and averaged 4.0 yards per attempt compared to the 3.7 yards the Buccaneers averaged per rush over the past three years. 

Between both McCoy and Fournette, the Buccaneers now have two running backs who combined for eight 1,000-yard rushing seasons. For perspective, since entering the league in 1976, the Buccaneers have totaled 12 1,000-rushing seasons.

While there is a lot to look forward to with the signing of Fournette, there must also be concerns. 

For example, Fournette was a known powerhouse while at LSU yet has not shown that physical dominance since entering the NFL in 2017. Fournette also is not the most elusive running back in the NFL as Pro Football Focus ranks him 24th.

Fournette now has to prove his doubters wrong. He looks to possibly lock up a more extended contract with the Buccaneers following the 2020-21 season. 

Fournette and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in action for the first game of the 2020 season as travel to New Orleans to take on Drew Brees and the Saints.

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