Bill Belichick Needs Leonard Fournette to Save the Patriots Offense
Bill Belichick may not acknowledge it publicly, but his roster has a shortage of playmakers. Tom Brady overcame a lack of premium talent at wide receiver for years. Yet, his final season with the New England Patriots exposed the team’s uninspiring options at the skill positions. As Belichick tries to win a Super Bowl with Cam Newton, he can save the Patriots offense by signing Leonard Fournette.
After all, Belichick has a history of turning castoffs into valuable contributors. And given Fournette’s talent and scheme fit, it makes total sense for the Patriots to aggressively pursue the former Jacksonville Jaguars running back.
The Patriots need playmakers
Even with Cam Newton on board, the Patriots still appear to be short-handed on offense. Starting tight end Matt LaCosse opted-out of the season. So did veteran running back Brandon Bolden and right tackle Marcus Cannon.
At the skill positions, the Patriots have little in the form of proven playmakers. Julian Edelman enters his age-34 season with a ton of wear and tear on his body. Meanwhile, N’Keal Harry looks to put a lost rookie season behind him. Veteran Mohamed Sanu may not even make the team thanks to his $6.5 million salary that does not match his level of production.
The tight end spot features two rookies in Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene. Asiasi was essentially a one-year wonder in college. Keene caught just 59 passes at Virginia Tech and does not have a defined position on offense.
While the Patriots do boast impressive backfield depth, they do not have a clear-cut No. 1 RB. Sony Michel has struggled to stay healthy and has not provided the splash plays that made him a star at Georgia. Fellow former SEC standout Damien Harris has flashed in training camp, but he basically redshirted his first year in New England. Although James White excels as a pass-catcher, he provides little as a pure running back.
Bill Belichick also recently signed Lamar Miller. However, he faces an uphill battle to make the team after just getting activated off the PUP list on Monday.
New England has expressed interest in Leonard Fournette
With a clear need for playmakers, the Patriots must consider signing Leonard Fournette. After all, he just set a career-high with 1,152 rushing yards for a Jaguars offense that started a sixth-round rookie at quarterback. Fournette also set a career-high with 76 catches—an impressive total for a traditional power back.
After clearing waivers, Fournette can sign with any team of his choosing. While the Kansas City Chiefs have shown interest in him, they aren’t the only team to do so. On Wednesday, The Athletic’s Jeff Howe reported via Twitter that New England has also expressed interest in the former top-five pick.
Though Howe did not provide any additional information, the potential pairing makes total sense for both parties. After all, no NFL coach knows more about reclamation projects than Bill Belichick.
Bill Belichick needs Fournette to save the Patriots offense
Having already signed Cam Newton to a one-year, incentive-laden deal, Bill Belichick would be smart to take the same approach with Leonard Fournette. The talented running back would be the latest reclamation project to join forces with the legendary head coach.
More than a decade ago, Belichick brought in Corey Dillon—another powerful running back who came with baggage—and rode the former Bengals star to a Super Bowl title. Randy Moss also turned his career around after coming to New England. Belichick could do the same with Fournette, who still has a ton of upside at just 25 years old.
In reality, though, Belichick needs the former Jaguars star to save his offense. New England lacks proven playmakers at wide receiver and tight end. And the running back group looks like a collection of decent players without a bonafide bellcow.
Fournette would provide an instant upgrade over Michel or anyone else in New England’s running back room. Dating back to his days at LSU, he has plenty of experience operating as the focal point of an offense. Josh McDaniels could utilize the 228-pounder as his main ball-carrier in what should be a much more ground-and-pound attack. Plus, with Newton’s own running ability, that could open up read-option plays to confuse defenses.
Joining forces with Belichick and the Patriots would also give Fournette a chance to score a huge payday next offseason. If he can acclimate to the team culture and prove himself on the field, he should have no shortage of suitors in free agency. Perhaps Belichick would even consider bringing him back and moving Michel in a trade.
Ultimately, Leonard Fournette needs the Patriots just as much as they need him.
Let’s see if Bill Belichick agrees.