11:55 AM ET
Jenna LaineESPN Staff Writer
- Covered the Buccaneers since 2009
- Joined ESPN in 2016
Free-agent running back Leonard Fournette is re-signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a one-year deal worth $3.25 million with incentives that would push it to $4 million, a source told ESPN.
Fournette was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars just days before the 2020 season opener, and the Buccaneers signed him to a one-year deal worth $2 million. It meant taking on a backup role behind Ronald Jones, which Fournette admitted was a challenge for him, but his commitment to being a team player paid off.
Jones suffered a broken finger, went on the reserve/COVID-19 list and suffered a quad injury, all of which forced him to miss Weeks 15 and 16 and the wild-card game at Washington. That allowed Fournette the opportunity to step up and go for 225 total yards and four touchdowns in that span, including 93 yards and two touchdowns against Washington, which earned him the nickname “Playoff Lenny.”
His nickname was soon changed to “Lombardi Lenny” after Fournette finished with 448 total yards in the postseason — the most of any player from scrimmage. His four touchdowns in the playoffs were the fourth most in franchise postseason history and included a 27-yard touchdown run in Super Bowl LV.
With the return of Fournette, the Bucs are now returning all 22 offensive and defensive starters from their championship team.
Fournette, who turned 26 in January, was the fourth overall pick in 2017 by the Jaguars, who declined to pick up his fifth-year option last May before releasing him in September. After a difficult 2018 season in which he was on the bench in crunch time, fined and criticized, Fournette responded with his best season statistically in 2019, rushing for a career-best 1,152 yards and catching 76 passes for 522 yards with three total touchdowns.
He has 2,998 rushing yards with 23 rushing touchdowns and 170 receptions for 1,242 yards and two touchdown catches in 49 career regular-season games.