The Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked set at running back going into camp, but Bruce Arians and the Bucs appear to be mulling over signing Leonard Fournette.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been tied to every available running back since the start of the offseason. Every draft pick, free agent, and trade option was seen as an opportunity for the Bucs to improve their ground game. Leonard Fournette will prove no different.
Tampa Bay passed on several reliable options in the draft and free agency, but their running back room looked as solid as ever at the beginning of training camp. Ronald Jones was set to make massive strides in year three, Ke’ Shawn Vaughn was still a third-round draft pick, and the supporting cast could provide adequate depth.
Training camp has poked some massive holes in the belief that the Bucs didn’t have to worry about their run game anymore, and Jones currently looks like the only back who can be called upon to be a consistent runner.
When the news broke today that the Jaguars released Fournette, it was no surprise that Tampa Bay was immediately seen as a viable landing spot. The biggest surprise was that the head coach didn’t shut the rumors down.
Instead of saying “we won’t need him” or “this move wouldn’t work,” Arians instead said the following, according to Greg Auman on Twitter:
Just so that it is painfully clear, the Bucs adding Leonard Fournette here makes absolutely no sense. Tampa Bay has been evident in its support for Ronald Jones, has limited cap space, and Fournette would immediately mess up the depth chart’s balance. Who would the Bucs cut to make space? Who would lose out on reps?
These questions are just the tip of the iceberg when evaluating this potential roster addition, but Arians isn’t the type to feed into the drama. If Arians didn’t want Fournette, he would have just shut the rumors down as he did with Antonio Brown.
If Arians really does want to add Fournette, several significant changes should be expected. Ronald Jones’ role would get cut in half, Ke’ Shawn Vaughn would likely move to the practice squad, and Dare Ogunbowale or Shady McCoy would be forced to compete for the final position.
The massive upheaval that would follow is enough to make this trade look like an impossibility, but Fournette is a proven entity. He has been consistent on the ground, through the air, and as a pass protector, and he would be a great additional piece for Tom Brady.
The Buccaneers should not move on this offer even if there is mutual interest, but it has become clear this year that anything is possible with the new Bucs.