The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking to get back to the Super Bowl after winning it in 2020-21 and losing to the current Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams in the 2021-22 NFC divisional playoffs in dramatic fashion.
In order to do so they’re going to need a healthy, in-shape and locked-in Leonard Fournette. The former LSU Tigers star has been a key cog in the Buccaneers attack since signing with the team prior to the 2020 season.
Fournette is currently being chastised for what is being called substantial weight gain this offseason. During the team’s June minicamp Fournette was noticeably bigger, and he didn’t look comfortable stepping on the scale.
Pictures of Fournette at practice in June.pic.twitter.com/aWVJOe3kEa
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) July 18, 2022
The “Sports Day Tampa Day” podcast is now reporting that the 2017 No. 4 overall pick was upward of 260 pounds. Insider Rick Stroud had this to say about the bruising but usually nimble back.
“The last time we saw Leonard Fournette he was a donut shy of 260. He certainly didn’t look the guy who could play every down.”
“Coaches were not happy, and that’s an understatement, when he didn’t participate in the OTAs, but then he shows up to mandatory minicamp weighing damn near 260. And that’s not a good sign for a guy that you just spent a three-year contract on.”
This isn’t the first time Fournette has had his weight questioned since his arrival into the NFL. During his final season at LSU, he weighed right around 240. When he arrived at the NFL Combine he was about 245.
The Jaguars still took him No. 4 overall, but Fournette quickly got the picture that the extra weight was a no-go, and especially playing for someone like former Jags head coach Tom Coughlin, the master disciplinarian. He stopped eating so much of mama’s cajun cooking and slimmed down to the 225-228 range.
#Bucs RB Leonard Fournette, fresh off signing a 3-year, $21 million contract with the team, says he now weights over 240 pounds.
He was listed *by the team* at 228 pounds last season. pic.twitter.com/s6bgQpUZNq
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) June 7, 2022
And that’s been his playing weight ever since his rookie season. So for him to blow up like this now is a bit strange. But he’s denying the claims of his escalated weight gain.
Fournette Debunks Notion Of Significant Weight Gain:
After hearing all the talk about his supposed weight gain, Fournette tweeted out:
“No, I weighed 245. Y’all say anything.”
And in Fournette’s past that’s shown to be nothing more than water weight, as he alluded to during his NFL Combine weigh-in five years ago. But after signing a new deal, he should be in better shape than he currently is. Two hundred forty-five pounds is still 17 pounds heavier than his agreed upon limit of 228.
— J.Bush CSCS, USAW, PES (@JBush____) July 1, 2022
Following a season where he rushed for 812 yards, plus caught 69 passes for 454 yards, Fournette signed a three-year, $24 million deal.
Fournette Has Competition At Running Back
If the rumors are true about his weight, Fournette could be in trouble, with rookie Rachaad White, and veterans Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard waiting to pounce on the opportunity to get more touches out of the backfield. With Brady under center and wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin catching passes the Bucs offense under offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich will be fine.
But with an engaged and ready Fournette the unit is one of the best in the league.