JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – That didn’t take long.
Leonard Fournette is headed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after reaching an agreement in principle with the team on Wednesday night.
The former Jaguars running back, who was released by the team that drafted him in a surprising move on Monday, cleared waivers Tuesday making him a free agent.
The NFL Network and ESPN first reported the news. Fournette tweeted out a photo of him in a Buccaneers jersey.
Fournette went from arguably the NFL’s worst team to perhaps a Super Bowl contender in the matter of three days.
In Tampa Bay, Fournette will be paired with a future hall of fame quarterback in Tom Brady, another soon-to-be hall of famer in tight end Rob Gronkowski and a team that is built for a championship season right now.
#Bucs are giving RB Leonard Fournette a 1-year deal worth a max value of $3.5M, source said. He gets a $2M base salary and incentives are based on rush yards & play-time. Plus, with no off-sets from his #Jaguars deal, Fournette can double dip if he wins his grievance & add $4.2M.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 3, 2020
The Jaguars, meanwhile, felt more comfortable going with a slew of unproven backs (veteran Chris Thompson is the projected starter) than keeping Fournette.
It’s a massive turn of events for Fournette, who was in the final year of his rookie contract with Jacksonville and suiting up for a team that is expected to be the worst in the league. If he sticks with the Buccaneers — the running back room is crowded — he’ll have a shot to reach the playoffs in 2020.
That wasn’t happening with the Jaguars.
Jacksonville drafted Fournette fourth overall in 2017 — in front of a slew of players who turned out to be stars — and wound up getting nothing in return for him. Coach Doug Marrone said that the team shopped Fournette and could get nothing at all in return for him.
Fournette had a pair of 1,000-yard rushing seasons for Jacksonville, including as a rookie in 2017 when the team reached the AFC championship game. Fournette struggled badly in his second season and bounced back last year, but he never became the playmaker the team envisioned. The front office executive who drafted him, Tom Coughlin, was fired last year.
Fournette rushed for 2,631 yards and 17 touchdowns in his career and will no doubt be viewed as one more of the Jaguars wasted first-round draft picks. Jacksonville has had six picks in the top five from 2010-19. None remain with the team.