Tom Brady's band is nearly back intact as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reload for a run at a Super Bowl repeat.
Running back Leonard Fournette is re-signing for the 2021 season, his deal worth a maximum of $4 million with incentives, according to multiple reports.
His return means the reigning champs basically have all of their key players coming back with the exception of wide receiver Antonio Brown, who currently remains unsigned.
Fournette had limited impact in the 2020 regular season after joining the Bucs right before Week 1. He started only three games and finished with 600 yards from scrimmage, a career low.
Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette had 135 total yards in Tampa Bay's Super Bowl 55 defeat of the Chiefs. (Photo: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)
However "Playoff Lenny" came alive in the postseason, starting all four games in place of banged-up Ronald Jones and averaging 112 total yards and one TD per game. Fournette rushed for a game-high 89 yards in the Bucs' Super Bowl 55 victory over Kansas City, adding four catches for 46 yards.
And it wasn't the first time "Playoff Lenny" thrived in January. Fournette averaged 95.3 yards and scored four total TDs in the Jacksonville Jaguars' three-game playoff run to end the 2017 season.
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His new contract reflects a still-depressed positional market, this free agent class' top-paid backs garnering a touch north of $5 million annually.
The Jags made Fournette the fourth overall pick of the 2017 draft, and he responded with a strong rookie campaign. But inconsistency on the field and bouts of immaturity off of it eventually caused him to fall out of favor in Jacksonville, which waived him Aug. 31. Recruited by Brady, he joined the Buccaneers just days later.
The cap-relieving extension Brady signed earlier this month – left tackle Donovan Smith chipped in with a similar move earlier this week – has largely made it possible for Tampa Bay to mount an effort toward the first Super Bowl repeat since TB12's Patriots last successfully defended a title in 2004. While the club awaits Brown's next move, wideout Chris Godwin received the franchise tag, pass rusher Shaq Barrett, linebacker and defensive captain Lavonte David, tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh and even kicker Ryan Succop all re-signed.
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.
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