Tagged in: running backs

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Leonard Fournette reach 3-year, $21 million deal

Running back Leonard Fournette, who spent Monday visiting with the New England Patriots, is re-signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a three-year, $21 million deal, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday.

The deal involves $11 million guaranteed, sources told ESPN’s Jenna Laine, and it could reach $24 million with incentives.

The Buccaneers are also nearing a one-year contract with defensive end William Gholston, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Gholston, who had a career-high 4.5 sacks last season, had interest from other teams but wanted to chase another Super Bowl with the Buccaneers.

Fournette ranked sixth among all NFL running backs with 1,266 yards from scrimmage, averaging a career-best 4.5 yards per carry, when the Bucs placed him on injured reserve with a hamstring injury after Week 15. He missed the wild-card game and returned for the Bucs’ divisional-round loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

After signing his second one-year deal with the Bucs last offseason, Fournette, 27, rushed for 812 yards and scored 10 total touchdowns (eight in the regular season). He also caught 69 passes for 454 yards.

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His best game came in Week 12, when Fournette, in addition to delivering a memorable halftime speech when the Bucs fell behind, rushed for 100 yards on 17 carries and had seven receptions for 31 yards versus the Colts.

The last of his four touchdowns in that 38-31 victory was a 28-yard run with 29 seconds left.

Fournette earned the nickname “Playoff Lenny” — and later, “Lombardi Lenny” — while leading the Bucs with 448 scrimmage yards and four touchdowns in a postseason run to Super Bowl LV, where he rushed for 135 yards as Tampa Bay beat the Kansas City Chiefs.

After backing up Ronald Jones for the majority of the 2020 season — an experience that he and the coaching staff believe humbled him and helped prolong his career — Fournette seized the opportunity when Jones was sidelined for the final few weeks of the season by injuries and a stint on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Fournette was the fourth overall pick in 2017 by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who declined to pick up his fifth-year option and released him after the 2019 season.

After a difficult 2018 season in which he was on the bench in crunch time, fined and criticized, Fournette responded with his best season statistically with the Jaguars in 2019, rushing for a career-best 1,152 yards and catching 76 passes for 522 yards with three total touchdowns.

He has 3,810 rushing yards with 31 rushing touchdowns and 239 receptions for 1,696 yards and four TD catches in 63 career regular-season games.

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Detroit Lions likely to roll with veteran Adrian Peterson as lead running back

Adrian Peterson had more snaps, rushes and yards than the rest of the Detroit Lions’ running backs combined Sunday. And based on what his offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, stated Tuesday, it looks as though the 35-year-old future Hall of Famer might end up being the lead back for the club for the immediate future as well.

Peterson played 40 snaps in the Lions’ 26-23 victory versus Arizona on Sunday, getting 22 carries for 75 yards along with one catch for 10 yards. That followed two weeks of a committee approach among Peterson, Kerryon Johnson and D’Andre Swift.

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Those situations come with Peterson atop the depth chart.

Detroit signed Peterson after he was released by Washington on Sept. 4. He said he had the chance to go to a couple of teams, but he selected the Lions because of an opportunity to play again with Bevell, who was his offensive coordinator at the start of his career in Minnesota.

So far, Peterson has averaged 4.9 yards per carry (43 attempts, 209 yards). Johnson has averaged 3.4 yards (18 attempts, 62 yards), while rookie Swift is averaging 2.5 yards (8 attempts, 20 yards).

Bevell did praise Johnson on Sunday, calling him the “player of the game” due to his pass-protection pickup and the nuances that led to Jesse James’ touchdown reception.

But it appears Johnson, who has been Detroit’s lead back when healthy the past two campaigns, might not touch the ball as much as he has in the past.

The question now might be whether the Lions have to manage Peterson’s workload. He has already played in 167 career games and carried the ball 3,079 times for 14,425 rushing yards. Plus, he’s at an age when most running backs are retired or playing a much less significant role.

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