Last season, Tom Brady got his revenge on Bill Belichick as he won the Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Belichick and the Patriots, on the other hand, ended up having a down season. In a matter of a couple of days, though, they have become a force to be reckoned with again. The Patriots have been big spenders in free agency so far, as they have completely reloaded ahead of the 2021 season. They, however, might not be done yet as Bill Belichick could steal Tom Brady and the Buccaneers’ playoff savior, running back Leonard Fournette.
Leonard Fournette was big for the Buccaneers in the playoffs
Leonard Fournette was coming off a 1,100-yard rushing season with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019 when he joined Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a one-year, $2 million contract that was worth up to $3.5 million with incentives, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. He didn’t play much of a role in the team’s offense throughout the 2020 season, though. He ran for 367 yards on 97 carries and caught 36 passes for 233 yards. This ultimately helped him earn $2.5 million total with the Buccaneers in 2020, per Spotrac.
However, his low numbers in the regular season didn’t actually matter when it was all said and done, as Tampa Bay ended up winning the Super Bowl this past year. Fournette was huge for them in the postseason, too.
In four playoff games, Fournette ran for 300 yards and three touchdowns and caught 18 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown. He ultimately averaged 75 rushing yards per game after only running for 28.2 yards per game in the regular season. His best game arguably came in the Super Bowl, too, as he ran it 16 times for 89 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 46 yards.
Leonard Fournette truly proved how much he could mean to the Buccaneers. However, could he now join Tom Brady’s old team.
Bill Belichick may steal Tom Brady’s playoff savior
The New England Patriots had a down year pretty much for the first time in two decades in 2020. They went 7-9 and struggled offensively, only scoring 20.4 points per game. The Pats didn’t really have a featured running back in their offense, either.
New England had three players who ran for over 440 yards, but Cam Newton was one of them (592), and Damien Harris led the team in rushing with only 691 yards.
This is where Leonard Fournette could come in, as Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported that “the Patriots are also lurking as another option for Leonard Fournette” in addition to the Buccaneers and Seahawks.
If Fournette can play in 2021 like he did in the playoffs, and like he did in 2019, he could significantly help the Patriots’ offense. He would give them talent in the backfield that they didn’t have last year, and would ultimately make them a scary team in the AFC again. Fournette would also take some pressure off Cam Newton or whoever the team’s QB is in 2021.
Additionally, the fact that he would be teaming up with Bill Belichick would also be a brutal blow to Tom Brady, given the success Brady and Belichick had together and how Brady ultimately decided to leave last offseason. The move wouldn’t hurt the Buccaneers too much, though. Ronald Jones is still under contract, and he nearly ran for 1,000 yards last season. Tampa, however, still doesn’t want to lose a guy like Fournette.
It will definitely be interesting to see where Fournette goes. No matter what team he signs with, though, Bill Belichick and the Patriots have already shown in free agency that they are ready to win again.
Bill Belichick and the Patriots have been big spenders in free agency
It’s unclear whether Cam Newton will be the starting quarterback for the Patriots in 2021. But no matter who ends up starting at QB for the Pats, Bill Belichick has already ensured through his recent free agency moves that New England will be better in 2021 than it was in 2020.
So far, the Patriots have signed tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. This could potentially emulate what the team had with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. They also added receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, in addition to signing linebacker Matt Judon.
They have been extremely busy so far and appear to be ready to win again.
Whether Bill Belichick brings Leonard Fournette to the Patriots in free agency or not, New England is already loaded. This team may actually be ready to reach the playoffs yet again in 2021. Fournette would just make them even stronger.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference