The New England Patriots have returned to their usual sluggish free agency methods, as they have allowed starters like JC Jackson and Ted Karras go without replacing them. They haven’t been linked to many big-name guys on the open market outside of running back Leonard Fournette.
After being bizarrely cut in Jacksonville, Fournette found a home alongside Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The man they call “Playoff Lenny” has played a very important role on one Buccaneers team that won a championship and another that was knocked out of the playoffs by the eventual champs this past season.
Fournette was visiting the Patriots on Monday, as adding a third potential starting running back to the backfield might be one way to make sure Mac Jones has the proper support heading into 2022. Unfortunately, it looks like New England was being played in order for Fournette to squeeze a few more bucks out of Tampa.
Fournette returned to Tampa Bay on a three-year, $21 million contract with $9 million in guarantees. Considering the state of the Patriots roster and Tampa’s need for a running back that can plow between the tackles, it’s becoming clearer that Fournette never had a ton of interest in joining New England.
Leonard Fournette played the New England Patriots.
While Damien Harris has an impending second contract New England needs to worry about, the 1-2 punch of Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson is easily one of the best combinations in the AFC. Adding a third player to the mix in Fournette may not have been the wisest move unless they had a plan to move off of Harris and give Fournette at least two years.
Still, with how often running backs can get hurt and Bill Belichick’s willingness to bench backs that underperform, Fournette has more than enough juice to support Jones as a lead ball carrier. At least signing him would’ve shown that the Patriots have some signs of life. The team’s marquee signing this offseason (outside the organization) has been … Terrance Mitchell?
New England might have some geographical and tax deficiencies to overcome, but this offseason has been a major wake-up call. Star players are still avoiding this franchise like the plague and last year’s spending spree hasn’t disputed that notion. Matthew Judon and Hunter Henry aren’t exactly household names in the sport. Every other move the Patriots made last year was of secondary recognition, too.
Now, the Patriots will find it even tougher than they anticipated to make it back to the postseason due to the inactivity in the last few weeks.