Patience In The Running Backs Market

March 17th, 2022

The Cardinals re-signed running back James Connor for three years at $21 million. Joe winced when Connor got that deal.

Bucs free agent Leonard Fournette is a better and more accomplished player than Connor, and both will play this season at 27 years old.

You can bet that Lombardi Lenny wants a bag like Connor’s. The Bucs’ No. 1 running back watched Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht pay $10 million a year to receiver Russell Gage this week, an outsider who doesn’t find the end zone like Fournette. Joe can imagine what was going through his mind when Gage came to Tampa.

Joe doesn’t blame Fournette for wanting his payday He’s earned it, and he’s in his prime.

So what will Licht do? Joe hopes Licht stays patient, and considering Fournette is unsigned at 8:15 p.m. on Thursday, Joe assumes Licht is doing just that.

Joe looks at the Colts’ quarterback situation and admires how they are not panicking, likely waiting for the trade price to drop on Jimmy Garoppolo or Matt Ryan, or if Baker Mayfield gets free.

There are running backs on the free agent market and the Bucs can stay a little patient with Ke’Shawn Vaughn on the roster and options in the draft, and various veteran third-down backs available that might meet Tom Brady’s standard.

Last year, Fournette earned $3.25 million after turning down multi-year deals elsewhere, per reports. So Joe assumes the Bucs are probably offering Fournette at least $5 million guaranteed in 2022 and 2023, and Lombardi Lenny surely wants $8 million or more.

Maybe $3 million is not a big enough difference for the Bucs to run the risk of losing him, but maybe Tampa Bay must be firm (for now) if they have hopes of signing Fournette and, say. defensive lineman William Gholston.

It’s a chess game for Licht. He hasn’t panicked yet and Joe doesn’t expect him to.

Enjoy Thursday’s Ira Kaufman Podcast!

48 Responses to “Patience In The Running Backs Market”

  1. Alvin Scissors Harper Says:

    Great to hear Davonte Adams is leaving the Pack for the Raiders for an insane 5 year deal! Sorry Ms. Rodgers!

  2. WalkdaPlank Says:

    The Brady Effect is also in play. People will take less money if there’s a higher chance at getting a ring.

    Unless you’re Aaron Rodgers of course

  3. Pewter Power Says:

    I’mall for Lenny going after the money, if you can ball as a running back it shouldn’t be undervalued. No position takes more punishment than a running back.

  4. Francisco Guzman Says:

    Bucs defense still looks weak. Is this secondary going to improve? What’s going on with the d-line? I think the defense will be their Achilles heel once again. 🤦‍♂️

  5. Casual Observer Says:

    Got to pay Gronk first. Then see if there is enough left.

  6. #8 Says:

    Need D. Draft may be all D.

  7. SB~LV Says:

    Lenny should take the most money…. Period !

  8. Francisco Guzman Says:

    You can’t roll your d-line with rookies. That’s a disaster in waiting. Idk what the bucs are doing when it comes to the defensive side of the ball.

  9. SB Says:

    Lots of good RBs in the draft in mid rounds!

  10. David Says:

    Wow!!! D Adams was allegedly offered the same money from the Packers and said no thanks, would rather go elsewhere, specifically the Raiders.
    People flock to Brady while a lot of free agents have run from Aaron Rodgers ….
    should tell you everything

  11. Tye Says:

    I’ll be stoked for this season when I see a proven Back signed!

  12. unbelievable Says:

    ^ Yup, should be great value in rounds 3 – 4 for running backs this draft. Obviously having a guy with proven experience is nice though.

    But I agree with some of the others mentioning the defense. We need to improve our pass rush. While we ranked decently in various pass rushing categories for last year, it was WILDLY inconsistent. And it disappeared too many times against better teams.

    (Let’s not forget we had a pretty soft arse schedule last year. Not so much in 2022).

    We need more pass rush help. And we need it now. Can’t die by the blitz all year.

  13. catcard202 Says:

    Love Lenny, but it is not smart business to ever pay a RB that kind of money.

    Would take a hard look at signing 26yr old former USF RB Marlon Mack…($2.5M market value)..& draft the best RB on the board w/ the #60pick – Day2, before throwing $7M+ a yr to Fournette.

    Vaughn, Mack + Rookie Back, your looking at ~$5-5.5M commitment to the position group.

  14. Brian Says:

    Like the last post. But we need to talk Dline – that pass rush win the Rams a super bowl. A pass rush took the niners to the champ game

  15. Anonymous Says:

    pay the man

  16. Tim Says:

    Arians doesn’t like paying big money to RB’s, and history generally bears that sentiment out. Let him chase the money elsewhere. As mentioned above, a mid-round RB with Vaughan will be fine. The scant money we have needs to be prioritized elsewhere.

  17. Ash Says:

    Yup seems like a smart move to not sign Lenny and focus on the defense

  18. Buc king Says:

    Trade for barkley

  19. Pelsbuc61 Says:

    Love Lenny but Gronk and the Dline are more of a priority.

  20. sasquatch Says:

    I’d rather have Gio and a drafted RB than spend 7 million for Lenny.

    I’d rather sign Gronk and Gholston before Lenny.

  21. steele Says:

    James Conner and R.Mostert would have been great fits. Key Vaughn will be fine, but a committee and depth ineeded.

    I would rather them pass on Lenny.

    There are plenty of good RBs in the draft. Kenneth Walker, Dameon Pierce etc

    Among FAs, Melvin Gordon, Rashad Penny, Sony Michel.

  22. cmurda Says:

    I see Lenny like many saw CD. We can survive without him. The replacement would need to be adept at blocking and catching the ball out of the backfield like Gio Bernard. Wait… I love Lenny but CD was way more important. You can’t drop nutty coin everywhere. We kicked the can pretty hard already. Our foot hurts bad enough from that kick. Do you have any idea how bad it would hurt to drop 7+ on Lenny?

  23. Defense Rules Says:

    Ash … ‘Yup seems like a smart move to not sign Lenny and focus on the defense’.

    Much as I love defense, Tom Brady NEEDS Fournette in the same way that he needs Gronk & Evans. Take a good look at Lenny’s performance in the Rams’ game: 9-for-9 catching the ball out of the backfield, on a day when ME13 went 8-for-16, Gronk went 4-for-11 and Brate went 1-for-3. He was the Mr Dependable IMO. Bucs desperately need to address the DLine, but they ALSO need to get Playoff Lenny back in the fold. Vaughn isn’t The Guy.

  24. Oxycodoms Says:

    Can get a better rb where bucs pick in first round then a dlineman

  25. geno711 Says:

    There is a lot of talk about how bad our defense is.

    Got to be honest, I want it to improve as well but let me give stats:

    Scoring Offense — we were 3rd.
    Scoring Defense — we were 8th.

    Scoring Offense — we were 2nd.
    Scoring Defense — we were 5th.

    If we improve this year then maybe:
    Scoring Offense — 1st?
    Scoring Defense — 2nd?

  26. Cobraboy Says:

    “I don’t overpay that position.”

  27. SOEbuc Says:

    It sounds like Lenny is asking for too much from everyone because he has showed so much in the last two years and yet hasn’t been signed but I’m not Jason Licht. Can we consider Gronk a lock?

  28. SOEbuc Says:

    Resign Gio and a third round RB with no Lenny.

  29. Drew Says:

    This is just a thought. The falcons have not moved in on Cordell Paterson. I say we sign him and let the others walk. He has the burst and great hands for a rb/wr light.

  30. Drew Says:

    I say we sign Cordell Paterson. He proved he’s got the burst, and the hands still. I feel like the falcons are slow for not resigning him since he wants to stay with that organization. Drop gio, darden too possiblity, and call it a day.

  31. brooks Says:

    trade for zeke Elliot

  32. Rod Munch Says:

    Bucs will probably do a multi-year deal for around $5m/year, maybe 3yr/$15m, could use void years to pad it out to 5-years if needed, can have like a $2m cap hit for this year.

    I can’t see Fournette getting like $7m or $8m a year, RBs just don’t make that money anymore, and the Cards were universally mocked for that terrible deal they gave Connor.

  33. sasquatch Says:

    What would it take to sign Sony? Better value, younger, capable, has played with Brady. Sony + Gio, + draftee, we’re ready to roll.

  34. HC Grover Says:

    Need Lenny for the playoffs.

  35. Rod Munch Says:

    I want Lenny back, hopefully it happens, but I’d also take a flier on Marlon Mack if he’s healthy and very cheap, which I assume he will be. He didn’t catch the ball a lot with the Colts, but from what I saw at USF he had good hands – and he has great vision. As a cheap veteran, I’d at least take a look and see what his health is.

  36. Goatfarmer Says:

    I like whatever Licht decides and am really glad he and not the macaroons from above are running the team.

    I doubt there are dumber fans in the universe than what you can read right here.

  37. adam from ny Says:

    lol at take care of gronk first… ^^^^^^

    you pay gronk last…

    you figure that out down the line…

    he’s attached at the hip w/ brady…

    see oj howard immediate bills signing…

    let lenny blow in the wind to long and lenny could be gone…out of frustration and just getting pissed and feeling insulted…

    out of brady’s immediate guys, you had to lock down jensen and godwin fast…then lenny…then gronk…because gronk is the safest bet to be back, and also if you piss gronk off, you piss brady off…

    so gronk gets signed for what gronk feels is fair and they will clear the way for him after some priorities…

    i wonder if you can grab lenny for 2 years 15 mil…since i’m vibing a 2 year window for tom…

    i’m sure lenny wants long term tho…maybe he can get 3 years because the team is offering up a lot of 3 year jammies…

    also you can’t sleep on connor…sh!t really hit the fan in pittsburg when lev bell flipped on the steelers…and conner came in and they didn’t miss a beat…a few injuries the next year or so slowed him down, but he had a decent year for the cards last year…he’s a pretty darn good back – just sayin’

    a lot of the players talk about the stress, anxiety and uncertainty during the free agency period…

    i’m going to assume lenny is right in that moment right now – and a lot so because the bucs know he really wants to be back – i suggest to not make him sweat a contract too hard because he really rounded into form as a buccaneer from the time period where he was disgruntled and almost ready to walk away or get cut by BA…

    lenny has travelled a bit of a road – and i think he feels he’s found a home with the bucs and these players – don’t let him blow in the win – he’s a buccaneer – treat him as such – there’s a chance that name could be hanging in the stadium one day with the great names up there…


  38. adam from ny Says:

    continued from last post: ^^^

    toms here…so you forget rojo…and honestly gio is now optional if you sign lenny – as lenny has proven to fill the void of completely needing a specific 3rd down back

  39. adam from ny Says:

    don’t get me wrong tho…i think you resign gio…

    lenny, sneak and gio as the triple play

  40. Joseph C Simmons Says:

    I like Lenny, but let’s face it, last year the running game sucked. Fournette is solid and dependable, but he’s not even as explosive as Rojo, and we’re apparently letting Rojo walk.

    You don’t pay big money for ‘solid and dependable’. The ONLY time you pay big money to a running back is when they’re a real difference maker and there’s still a lot of tread on the tires. This is rare. Adrian Peterson was worth his second contract. Most of them aren’t.

  41. Goatfarmer Says:

    Adam from NY has it right. Sign him, 3 year deal something between Connor and what the Bucs probably offered already.

    Lenny not explosive? Check yo sheet. He had a few of the fastest runs over the last two seasons as clocked by next gen stats.

    He is every down. Youi don’t tip your hand at all if he is in there. And he is a monster blitz picker upper. Although if you don’t actually watch football you wouldn’t have seen this in person, so yeah.

  42. adam from ny Says:

    i think lenny has really upped his mental game…he was more bull headed upon arrival…i think he’s soaked in a bit of the tom brady sponginess to his benefit…

    the talent has always been there…he is a really well rounded back at this point – who usually just gets it done…

    he was a borderline pro bowler last year…

    and this offense is not built around the run when the goat is here with a receiver gang like no other…

    ^^^ lenny is way more than solid and dependable…

    solid and dependable is payton barber…

    or earnest graham – and earnest graham was a little more than solid and dependable too…

    on any given sunday it can be a big game for lenny…

    he’s not a 25 carry workhorse in this offense but he makes up for it with his touches in the receiving game…

    and brady trusts him – that’s vital – and he’s on the same page with brady – and he blocks for brady as tommy goes thru progressions…

    and if we played in a monsoon…he would have 28 carries for 94 yards…

    sign the man

  43. Stone crab sam Says:

    Again the Bucs gave the golden grill that big deal before Lenny?
    That one could bite them.
    As you see consequence of getting into the stupid pills.
    It has ripple effects.
    Lenny is the real deal, the grill not so much.
    The Bucs secondary has resembled ‘toast jones’ and probably has a poster of him somewhere on the halls of one buc place😬

  44. bucschamp Says:

    we need bully Lenny.

  45. Allbuccedup Says:

    Pay Gronk and Honey Badger then see whats left.

  46. Listnfrmafar Says:

    DR is right, the man worked on his receiving and balls every game. You can’t teach heart. Lenny would be a huge loss. The numbers don’t lie.

  47. Defense Rules Says:

    Joseph C Simmons … ‘I like Lenny, but let’s face it, last year the running game sucked.’

    Depends on how you evaluate the running game. Bucs are a PASSING TEAM; no secret there. Bucs only ran on 33.8% of our plays last year (and a lot of those were later in games?). So yes, if you don’t work at something, you probably won’t be as good at it as others who do work at it (like the Eagles who finished #1 in Rushing Yardage with 2715 yds … yet finished 9-8 on the season?).

    Bucs averaged 4.3 YPC on the season despite ranking #31 in Rushing Attempts. That’s not all that bad actually. You know who had the BEST average? Gio … 7.3 YPC (but on only 8 rushes). Keshawn did well … 5.0 YPC (but on only 36 rushes, and if you take away his 1 longest run of 55 yds, his average on the other 35 runs drops to 3.6 YPC, more inline with who he is IMO). Lenny did very well IMO … 4.5 YPC (he had the most attempts by far with 180, but also the most offensive snaps with 623, telling me that BA considered him to be his best well-rounded back for running, catching & blocking).

  48. Buczilla Says:

    My only hesitation about not giving Lenny what he wants is that Licht and our scouting department aren’t good at finding running backs in the draft.