Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette was prepared to leave the team in free agency — however, Tom Brady convinced him to stay.
Fournette was exploring other options, and he even had a meeting with the New England Patriots on March 21.
However, Brady made sure that the running back would stay a part of the offensive arsenal. He carried the ball 180 times for 812 yards and eight touchdowns in 2021. He also caught 69 passes for 454 yards and two touchdowns, showcasing his skills as a versatile running back.
In two seasons with the Buccaneers, he has carried the ball 666 times for 2,631 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Fournette told Rich Eisen on Thursday that a phone call with Brady was enough to change his mind, as transcribed by Adam London of NESN.com.
“At this time, I was a free agent, so I didn’t know if I was going to return to the Bucs or not — future was uncertain,” Fournette said on “The Rich Eisen Show.” “So, I just went around shopping, you know, see what teams had in store for me. When I went up to New England, he texted me.
He was like, ‘Man, what’s your ass doing up there?’ I said, ‘Man, just shopping around, seeing what’s good for me, trying to see what’s available for myself to provide for my family.’
He was like, ‘Man, I’ll call you back. I’ll call you back.’ Next thing you know, Tampa calls me with an offer.”
Fournette’s return could be a welcome one for a Buccaneers organization that is going to miss a few key pieces heading into 2022. With Rob Gronkowski’s retirement on Tuesday, Tampa Bay is going to need as many offensive weapons as possible to remain one of the league’s hottest teams.