The New England Patriots know that they need to improve their offense. Though their pursuit of stud wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins went awry, there’s a handful of veterans who could make an impact still on the market.
The crop of free-agent running backs is the most robust right now, and the Pats have been strongly linked to Dalvin Cook in the wake of the Hopkins deal falling through.
However, a new name that also happens to have ties to Tom Brady has suddenly emerged.
Leonard Fournette Patriots Rumors
New England is hosting veteran RB Leonard Fournette for a workout on Wednesday, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. The fact that the Pats got Lombardi Lenny in so quickly after the Hopkins news shows they’re still motivated to make an addition, and fast.
Fournette is coming off a successful three-year run with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The former No. 4 overall draft pick developed a quick rapport with Brady and emerged late down the stretch of the 2020 season. His efforts during the postseason were downright Herculean (448 total yards, 4 touchdowns), and he played a major role in the team’s Super Bowl victory.
The ex-Jacksonville Jaguar then became the team’s RB1 in 2021 with strong results (1,266 yards from scrimmage, 10 total TDs), but 2022 didn’t go nearly as well. Rookie RB Rachaad White officially supplanted Fournette as the team’s starter in Week 10 as the latter’s efficiency declined, and the backs split snaps to end the year.
Concerns about Fournette at this stage of his career are very valid. He’s got a ton of miles on his tires with 61 career starts and 79 games played since 2017. The 28-year-old’s also failed to record a 1,000-yard rushing campaign since 2019.
Though Fournette’s days of being a workhorse are likely over, he can still contribute as both a runner and pass-catcher. Brady trusted him as a safety valve over his final two years in Tampa Bay, which led to Fournette posting at least 83 targets, 69 receptions and 450 receiving yards in both 2021 and 2022.
Even if he’s not the back he once was, he’s a great complementary piece for any backfield. Pairing Rhamondre Stevenson with Fournette makes a ton of sense, especially knowing how much Bill Belichick loves his running backs to rotate. Having two dual threats out of the backfield would ensure the Pats’ offense always has an RB capable of breaking big yards as a rusher or receiver.
Dalvin Cook should still be the ultimate prize for the Pats, who’d suddenly have a 1A-1B scenario at running back, but Fournette is a nice consolation prize if they decide to settle for a No. 2 behind Stevenson instead.
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