Among the cost-cutting measures the Bucs took this offseason to take care of a $55 million salary cap bill was releasing Leonard Fournette. It was a mutual decision, as Fournette reportedly requested a release after Tom Brady announced his retirement and the cash-strapped Bucs happily obliged.
Fast forward six months and their paths might unexpectedly cross again.
The timing could not have been worse for Fournette hitting the open market. A main storyline throughout the offseason was how running backs are underpaid and undervalued, something that impacted top-tier stars like Saquon Barkley and Jonathan Taylor. While guys at the very top of the food chain struggled to get what they deserved, Fournette encountered unexpected competition when Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook were also released. Both guys ended up in places that seemed like fits for Fournette -- Zeke signed not long after Lenny had a tryout with the Patriots and Cook signed with the Jets in August.
Now that there are once again openings in New Orleans and Cleveland, Fournette is faced with the possibility of once again being passed over for Kareem Hunt.
Fournette needs a job and the Bucs have a potential opening at running back to fill. It's not exactly the greatest love story ever told, but it opens the door for an unexpected reunion. During his three seasons in Tampa Bay, Fournette racked up over 3,000 yards and 23 touchdowns while averaging four yards per carry. He didn't look great last year, but neither did much else and a bad offensive scheme can't be held against him.
Rachaad White is getting a second chance in a new system and it's worth wondering what Lenny might look like with Dave Canales and Skip Peete in charge of the offense. He isn't a long-term solution, but it seems like a mutually beneficial deal to have Fournette prove his value in a familiar place and help the Bucs add to more dynamics to their running back room.