While most of the dust has settled, one notable running back remains unsigned with the start of NFL regular season on the horizon. Leonard Fournette, a former first-round pick who won a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers, is still available more than five months after he and the Buccaneers agreed to part ways.
Fournette worked out for the Patriots last month, but he left New England without a deal after he was reportedly not in the best of shape. Fournette's fitness was upon his arrival to the Buccaneers' mandatory minicamp the previous spring.
His fitness (or lack thereof) may be the main reason why Fournette remains unsigned. Fortunately for Fournette, his game is predicated on power, not speed and finesse, so it may not take him too long to get back to his old self once he finds a new team.
From a rushing standpoint, Fournette's 2022 season was not a good one. He rushed for 668 yards and three touchdowns while averaging a mere 3.5 yards per carry. Fournette was effective as a pass catcher, however, as he set career-highs with 73 receptions for 523 yards and three touchdowns. His success as a receiver and lack of success as a runner may have had less to do with him and more about the Buccaneers' offensive line struggles during what was a trying season for Tampa.
Regardless, Fournette is a player who could help a team in 2023. Still just 28 years old, Fournette is a powerful runner whose versatility played a key role in the Jaguars' surprising playoff run in 2017 and the Buccaneers' successful Super Bowl voyage three years ago.
Fournette could be a nice fit in Indianapolis, especially in light of Jonathan Taylor's as he wants a trade. Fournette would be a nice veteran presence in a backfield that is currently devoid of such experience. The Colts are currently slated to start Zack Moss, a four-year veteran who has 301 career carries under his belt.
Fournette could also help take less of the burden off of rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, who was for 2023.
The Cowboys don't have a proven running back behind starter Tony Pollard. Deuce Vaughn and Hunter Luepke are rookies while, Pollard's primary backup, Rico Dowdle, hasn't had a carry in a regular-season game since 2020. Adding Fournette would give Dallas' backfield much needed experience. His presence would also add toughness to a Cowboys offense that will face a slew of tough defenses in 2023.
Fournette would be an insurance policy in San Francisco. San Francisco has a solid backfield with Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell, but Mitchell dealt with multiple knee injuries last season, while McCaffrey also has had his share of injuries. Adding Fournette would not only give them an extra back, it would possibly take some of the load off of Mitchell and McCaffrey while keeping them fresher for a possible playoff run.