After Leonard Fournette signed with the Bucs back in early September, one of the first things he did was fire off a few tweets professing his love for Tom Brady and belief he would be a featured member of the Bucs new star-studded offense.
Three months later and it looks like the Bucs are ready to kick him to the curb.
In a slightly-surprising decision, the Bucs made Fournette a healthy scratch today for their game against the Vikings. This comes after a bye week following Fournette only touching the ball six times in their last game against the Chiefs. This is the culmination of him being systematically phased out of their offense in the previous three weeks with rookie Ke'Shawn Vaughn taking his spot on the active roster this week.
Vaughn was a third-round pick for the Bucs, so it makes sense they would want to see what they have in him over Fournette, who signed a one-year deal with the Bucs and isn't expected to be part of their long-term plans. But Fournette can't be happy taking a seat when he's trying to earn a new contract this offseason.
Coming off his best year as a pro (1,152 rushing yards and 522 receiving yards in 2019), Fournette was cut by the Jaguars in the preseason. He signed with the Bucs the first week of September and immediately tried to endear himself to Brady by posting several tweets proclaiming his excitement to join Tampa Bay.
With the exception of Week 2 when Fournette turned 12 rushing attempts into 103 yards and 2 TDs, nothing has gone well since. Fournette fumbled a handoff exchange in Week 3 and has only gotten double-digit carries two times since. He hasn't done much with his limited opportunities (averaging 3.9 yards per carry) and now he's hitting the bench.
With free agency looming and Fournette clearly not part of the Bucs' plans, one wonders if we'll see him again this season. Beyond their desire to see what they have in Vaughn, the Bucs also have LeSean McCoy on the squad. They could roll with those two as secondary options behind Jones the rest of the year.
Regardless of how this plays out, it's safe to say Fournette's time with the Bucs has turned out to be a massive bust and his place on the team isn't what he expected. It was a sign of confidence that he decided to sign with a team that already had a starter in Jones, but his self belief wasn't rewarded. Just another example of expectations not matching reality.