Leonard Fournette

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/22/22

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Buffalo Bills

Los Angeles Rams

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers Activate Leonard Fournette From IR, Waive Le’Veon Bell

After the Buccaneers played without their top two running backs in their wild-card game, they are set to have one of them back against the Rams.

Leonard Fournette is coming off IR and will play Sunday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Tampa Bay’s starting back has been out since suffering a hamstring injury in Week 15. The Bucs designated Fournette for return last week but kept him on IR ahead of their Eagles matchup, moving forward with Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard.

This week, Fournette should play a major role. While it is not certain if the former top-five pick will be up for his pre-injury workload, the Bucs having their leading rusher back will certainly help their cause. The team’s running game might encounter tougher-than-usual sledding, given some key offensive line injuries.

Ryan Jensen and Tristan Wirfs did get in limited practices this week, but The Athletic’s Jeff Howe tweets the latter is dealing with a high ankle sprain. This troublesome ailment could keep Wirfs out, and even if the All-Pro right tackle plays, he figures to be far less than 100%. Wirfs has yet to miss a game in two seasons.

The Bucs will also be without Fournette backup Ronald Jones, but their primary 2020 back has not been much of a factor this season. After gaining only 367 rushing yards in 2020, which featured time as a healthy scratch, Fournette totaled 1,266 scrimmage yards and matched his career-high with 10 touchdowns despite the hamstring injury ending his regular season early. Fournette returning to his “Playoff Lenny” form would stand to cement his value ahead of free agency, which should feature a better market for the ex-Jaguar this time around.

To make room for Fournette, the Bucs are waiving Le’Veon Bell, Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets. This marks the second time this season a team has waived the former All-Pro. The Ravens cut bait during the regular season. Bell, however, makes sense as practice squad insurance for the Bucs. Bell’s route back to Tampa Bay’s taxi squad would be fairly smooth, given his one-year contract and any team claiming Bell being unable to use him in the playoffs.

Buccaneers To Activate Lavonte David, Giovani Bernard; Leonard Fournette To Remain On IR

Part of the Buccaneers’ injured contingent will be back in uniform for the defending champions Sunday. Lavonte David and Giovani Bernard are set to come off IR on Saturday, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com tweets.

David suffered a foot injury in Week 15, joining Leonard Fournette and Chris Godwin in going down during a shutout loss to the Saints. Godwin is done for the season, and Laine adds Fournette will not be activated ahead of Saturday’s roster-setting deadline. Fournette is battling a hamstring injury.

While Bernard has not played a key role this season, he will be in line to do so against the Eagles. Not only is Fournette out, but the Bucs also declared Ronald Jones out because of an ankle injury. Tampa Bay has Bernard, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Le’Veon Bell as its healthy backs.

Fournette carried the load for the Bucs for most of this season, reducing Jones and the others to bit parts. The former Jaguars top-five pick totaled a Bucs-most 1,266 scrimmage yards in 14 games. Fournette can still be activated ahead of a divisional-round game or the NFC championship, provided this Bucs iteration’s season extends that far.

One of the NFL’s top off-ball linebackers over the past 10 seasons, David was instrumental to the Bucs claiming their second Super Bowl title last season. He totaled 97 tackles and two forced fumbles this season and ranks as Pro Football Focus’ No. 7 linebacker. David will be tasked with leading a charge against an Eagles team that leads the NFL in rushing.

Bruce Arians said Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul are also on track to return against Philadelphia. While Barrett was a full practice participant Friday, JPP did not suit up for even a limited session due to his shoulder and knee injuries. JPP is not on IR, however, and has not been declared out.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/12/22

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Dallas Cowboys 

Green Bay Packers

Los Angeles Rams

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Designate Lavonte David, Leonard Fournette, Giovani Bernard For Return

After sustaining several injury subtractions down the stretch, the Buccaneers are preparing to deploy a healthier squad for their first-round playoff matchup. The defending champs designated Lavonte David, Leonard Fournette and Giovani Bernard for return from IR on Wednesday.

David has been down since suffering a foot injury during the Bucs’ Week 15 loss to the Saints, one of a few key Bucs who did not make it past that night. The veteran linebacker has spent the past three weeks on IR but is eligible to return for Sunday’s Eagles tilt. Also seeing an ankle malady sideline him earlier in the campaign, David missed five games during the regular season due to injury.

Joining David in going down in that Saints shutout loss, Fournette returned to practice and is expected to play Sunday. Fournette enjoyed a bounce-back season, rushing for 812 yards (on 4.5 per carry) in 14 games, before suffering a hamstring injury in Week 15. The playoffs stand to be pivotal for Fournette, who is on the cusp of what should be a better free agent market. The former top-five pick played a vital role for the Bucs during last year’s postseason, totaling 448 yards from scrimmage and scoring four touchdowns.

Bernard has been down a bit longer, missing that Saints tilt and having not played since Week 14. One of the few key newcomers for Tampa Bay this season, Bernard has not played much of a role for his second NFL team. The longtime Bengal has totaled just 181 scrimmage yards in 12 games.

The Bucs activated Shaquil Barrett from IR on Tuesday, and Bruce Arians also expects Jason Pierre-Paul to return after a rotator cuff tear sidelined him for the past four games. While Richard Sherman is done for the season, the Bucs stand to be a much healthier squad when they play their 18th game this season.

Latest On Buccaneers’ Injury Situation

The Buccaneers will be finishing the regular season with a number of key pieces missing. According to an injury update from ESPN’s Jenna Laine, Tampa Bay will be without their top two pass rushers, top two running backs and, in all likelihood, an experienced piece of the secondary. 

Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett tested positive for COVID-19, which added another reason for him to miss Sunday’s game against Carolina. He is still recovering from a sprained MCL and ACL suffered during the team’s Week 16 win over the Panthers. In 15 games, Barrett has 51 tackles and a team-leading 10 sacks. His pass-rushing partner, Jason Pierre-Paul, will also be out due to a torn rotator cuff that’s kept him out since Week 15. Pierre-Paul has registered 31 tackles, 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble in 12 games in 2021. In their absences, look for Anthony Nelson and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka to start.

Meanwhile, backup running back Ronald Jones will be out after suffering an ankle injury in Week 17’s comeback win over the Jets. Head Coach Bruce Arians said, “we’ll have to wait and see on [Jones’] ankle because he can run straight but he still can’t cut”. The 24-year old had a walking boot on earlier in the week, but not any longer. Jones has 428 rushing yards and four touchdowns this season. Starter Leonard Fournette, in the meantime, remains on IR, but Arians is optimistic he will be ready for the playoffs. The Bucs would sorely miss his 1,266 scrimmage yards and 10 total touchdowns if doesn’t get activated in time. Ke’Shawn Vaughn is expected to play, and likely start, in Week 18.

Finally, cornerback Richard Sherman is listed as doubtful with an Achilles injury. After suffering a grade 2 calf sprain in November, the 33-year old came back in Week 14. However, he has missed two of three games since, and continued a downward trend in terms of playing time. After being on the field for nearly every down in his first two games as a Buc, Sherman has played a total of 29 snaps since, registering 11 tackles and one interception. Despite the news, Tampa Bay’s secondary is healthy overall.

The Buccaneers head into the final week of the season as the NFC’s third seed, where they will likely end up. They could move up to second, however, with a win over the 5-11 Panthers, along with a 49ers win over the Rams. Regardless of where they finish, though, health will be a huge question mark as they try to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

 

Lavonte David Done For Regular Season

THURSDAY: Both David and Fournette are now on IR. The Bucs ended the regular seasons of both starters with these moves, but the door will be open for each to return by Tampa Bay’s first playoff game.

WEDNESDAY: The Buccaneers’ sudden availability concerns now stretch to their defensive second level. They are set to be without Lavonte David for the regular season’s remainder, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.

David suffered a foot injury during Tampa Bay’s shutout loss to New Orleans. He will join Leonard Fournette in missing the regular season’s final three games. Both starters are obvious IR candidates, with three games remaining until the playoffs.

The team’s longest-tenured player, David re-signed on a third deal to stay in Tampa this offseason. The 10th-year linebacker has been a starter since being chosen in the 2012 second round. He missed two games earlier this year but has played in the Bucs’ past seven, running his tackle total to 97 and mixing in two sacks. David, 31, played a key role in keeping the Saints at nine points, recording 11 tackles and a sack.

While Sunday night’s Saints game cost the Bucs David and Fournette for a while, Chris Godwin endured the worst blow in suffering a torn ACL months away from free agency. Tampa Bay may also be without Mike Evans for multiple weeks, though the eighth-year wideout’s timetable is not yet certain. Fournette, who is also months away from what should be a more lucrative run in free agency, sustained a hamstring injury that led to him leaving Raymond James Stadium on crutches.

After entering Week 15 tied with Green Bay at 11-3, Tampa Bay’s odds to obtain a bye for the first time since 2002 are down to 5% — per FiveThirtyEight.com — going into Week 16. The Bucs’ homestretch does feature three winnable games — two against the Panthers, one against the Jets — but the defending champs will be missing some of their top players going into the postseason.

Buccaneers’ Chris Godwin Done For Year

Chris Godwin‘s season is over. On Monday, the Buccaneers announced that the wide receiver has been diagnosed with a torn ACL, ruling him out for the remainder of the season as well as the postseason. 

[RELATED: Brown To Rejoin Buccaneers]

Godwin was forced out in the first half of last night’s game against the Saints with a knee injury. As recently as this morning, the Bucs were optimistic about his outlook — doctors believed that he was dealing with an MCL sprain that would only shelve him for a few weeks. Unfortunately, it’s far worse than that. Godwin is now set for surgery and an offseason of rehab as the rest of the Bucs push for another title.

As expected, Godwin has been a focal point of Tampa’s offense this year. Through 14 games, he notched 98 catches for 1,103 yards and five touchdowns (as well as one rushing TD). Even with the impending return of Antonio Brown, his presence will be sorely missed.

On the plus side, the Bucs have received better news regarding fellow star receiver Mike Evans and running back Leonard Fournette. Their hamstring injuries may cost them time, but they should be ready to go sometime before the playoffs (via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport).

The timing is doubly bad for Godwin since he’s months away from free agency. Before the injury, he was poised to shatter the WR market. He’s currently fifth in the league with 1,103 yards, trailing only Cooper Kupp, Justin Jefferson, Davante Adams, and Tyreek Hill. Up until the injury, he was in line for something similar to his breakout 2019 — 1,333 yards with nine scores.

The Bucs, now without Godwin, remain in the NFC South driver’s seat at 10-4. They’ll have a chance to clinch on Sunday when they face the Panthers.

Buccaneers Re-Sign Leonard Fournette

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: The Buccaneers are keeping the band together. On Friday, GM Jason Licht struck a new one-year deal with running back Leonard Fournette (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Fournette is set to earn $3.25MM with the chance to reach $4MM via incentives. Apparently, that was enough for Fournette to say no to the Seahawks and other suitors.

The former No. 4 overall pick found his way to the Bucs after the Jaguars dropped him last summer. Serving as Ronald Jones‘ backup for much of the year, Fournette shined as the starter from Week 15 onward. In the regular season, Fournette averaged 3.8 yards per carry in 13 games. He also reeled in 36 passes for 233 yards, giving him 600 all-purpose yards for the year. He saved his best for the playoffs, collecting four touchdowns and 448 yards from scrimmage in four games.

The Buccaneers’ high-powered passing offense certainly had something to do with his resurgence. With the Jaguars’, Fournette faced stacked boxes on 39% of his carries from 2017-19. In Tampa, he’s got tons of offensive weapons around him to keep defenses honest.

Some wondered if the Buccaneers would be able to keep their core in tact after their Super Bowl victory. But, in the last month, they’ve held on to Fournette, Chris Godwin, Shaquil Barrett, Lavonte David, Rob Gronkowski, Ndamukong Suh, and other key pieces. Next, the Bucs will look to re-sign wide receiver Antonio Brown.

Buccaneers’ Leonard Fournette Considering Seahawks Offer

So far, the Buccaneers have kept most of the band together. Meanwhile, running back Leonard Fournette is considering a competitive offer from the Seahawks, according to Albert Breer of The MMQB (on Twitter). 

The former fourth-overall pick was unceremoniously let go by the Jaguars at the end of the 2020 preseason. He ultimately had to settle for a one-year, $2MM deal with Tampa Bay, and he served as Ronald Jones‘ backup during the early parts of the season. Fournette filled in as starter in Week 15, and he didn’t let go of that role through the rest of the season and playoffs. He brought his best during the postseason, collecting four scores and 448 yards from scrimmage in four games.

“We’ll see,” Fournette said of his Bucs future in a recent interview. “Right now, I’m just enjoying the process right now with this W with this organization and my team. You never know what the future holds for me right now, you know? I wound up ending on a great note. I’d love to be back. We’ll have to talk to my agent and see what they’re talking about.”

The Seahawks recently decided against franchise tagging Chris Carson, which would put them in the market for help at running back. Of course, quarterback Russell Wilson would probably prefer the team to put more of their resources towards building a stronger offensive line.