"Playoff Lenny" is back in Tampa Bay.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that the Bucs are re-signing running back Leonard Fournette to a three-year, $21 million deal that can be worth up to $24 million with incentives, per sources informed of the situation.
The deal comes a day after Fournette visited the New England Patriots. Given the crowded backfield in New England, it's no surprise that the trip to Foxborough ended up more like a leverage play for Fournette to coax the Bucs offer.
After Tom Brady announced his return to Tampa, the Bucs bringing back "Lombardi Lenny" always made the most sense for all parties.
After the former No. 4 overall pick was cut by Jacksonville ahead of the 2020 season, he landed in Tampa and has since grown into a trustworthy mate of Brady's. The RB surged into a playmaker during the Bucs' Super Bowl run and continued as the top back last season, as he generated 812 rushing yards and eight TDs on 180 carries. Fournette also improved his receiving skills under Brady, catching 69 passes for 454 yards and two TDs last season.
Before re-signing Fournette, the Bucs' backfield was barren, with Ronald Jones and Giovani Bernard also free agents. Ke'Shawn Vaughn was the top back on the roster.
Now Lenny provides Tampa a proven rusher who Brady trusts and can play all three downs.
The move once again underscores how differently this offseason has gone in Tampa since Brady decided to return. If TB12 remained retired, the odds are Fournette and others would have moved on. Now the Bucs are reloading for another run.
After hitting free agency the last two offseasons, the three-year pact also provides Fournette some clarity moving forward. His three-year deal, averaging $7 million per season, is in line with what the Cardinals paid to keep James Conner earlier this offseason.