According to NFL Network, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are planning to release Leonard Fournette ahead of free agency.
It truly is an offseason of change in Tampa Bay. After Tom Brady announced his retirement at the beginning of February, the Buccaneers are ending the month by cutting ties with another star player who helped the team win a Super Bowl.
Leonard Fournette is set to become the first major cap casualty of the offseason, as the Bucs are going to be parting ways with their starting running back in the coming weeks. The move will end Fournette’s tenure with the team but more notably — and painfully — it’s another curtain call for an era fans were lucky to have witnessed over the last three seasons.
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Bucs are planning on cutting Fournette ahead of free agency this offseason.
“The Bucs plan to release running back Leonard Fournette when the new league year begins March 15, per sources,” Pelissero reported. “Jason Licht mentioned recently that he felt Fournette was still a three-down back in this league. “Lombardi Lenny” is still only 28 and has plenty in the tank.”
Buccaneers rumors: Releasing Leonard Fournette saves some cap space for 2023
It’s a hard move to see the team make, but not one that’s entirely surprising. Tampa Bay is about $55 million over the salary cap entering the offseason with a number of important moves yet to be made — most notably building out the quarterback room.
Releasing Fournette will save the Bucs about $3.4 million this offseason, but it also takes his dead cap space off next year’s books. For as much that needs to be done this offseason, the Buccaneers need to start considering what the team looks like in the future and which key players need to remain a part of the franchise’s core.
Tampa Bay will likely wait until next offseason to extend guys like Tristan Wirfs and Antoine Winfield, but moving on from Fournette helps put such plans in motion.
As far as replacing Fournette goes, the Bucs saw some good things out of Rachaad White last season and are rumored to be looking at a rookie running back in this year’s draft.
Still, losing Fournette continues to signal the end of an era that was fantastic fun to experience. While he may be playing somewhere else in 2023, Buccaneers fans will always have a special place in their hearts for, and fond memories of, Playoff Lenny.