Leonard Fournette took a free agent visit to New England earlier this offseason, but it seems Tom Brady was able to scare him away from the Patriots.
One of the more surprising moments of the offseason came when it was announced that Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette was heading north for a free agent visit with the New England Patriots. The Pats were stacked at running back, and it didn’t make a ton of sense for Fournette to defect away from Tom Brady and the Bucs.
Fournette ended up re-signing with the Buccaneers on a three-year, $21 million deal that Bill Belichick and New England were almost certainly not willing to offer. While money was probably a deciding factor, it turns out that Brady may have played a role in Fournette opting to return to Tampa.
Tom Brady may have scared Leonard Fournette into re-signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As we all know, Brady was New England’s longtime quarterback for two decades, and there have been some inklings that he and the Patriots aren’t on the best of terms nowadays. When he found out Fournette was visiting New England, Brady quickly reached out Fournette and asked what he was doing there:
Brady may have been more concerned with one of his potentially top playmakers leaving, but this could also be seen as a diss on New England. The Brady/Belichick rivalry has been the subject of much debate since Brady left the Pats, so maybe he didn’t want Belichick to get another good player on his roster for the upcoming season.
It’s more likely that the latter isn’t true, and Brady just wanted his top running back on board since he eventually decided to return for yet another season. Fournette, of course, has revived his career in Tampa after getting released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he was one of the top options in the passing game for Brady and a decimated Bucs offense.
While it didn’t really seem like New England needed a running back, which made Fournette’s visit so confusing, they eventually addressed the position in the draft with third-day picks Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris. But it’s clear that Fournette would have been an immediate upgrade over either of these two guys.
Tampa Bay has certainly loaded up as they look to make another Super Bowl run with Brady back on board. But with his history in New England, Fournette’s comment today is certainly going to catch some attention, and for good reason. It seemed like the Brady/Belichick rivalry was over earlier this offseason, but it appears to be back in full force yet again for the 2022 NFL season.