Fournette doesn’t deserve top-5 money

by Gary Shelton on March 22, 2022

in general

Leonard Fournette wants a huge payday./TIM WIRT

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

Leonard Fournette wants money, lots of money, top-five money. He wants a make-it-rich contract, one that will set him up for life. He wants a general manager to make it rain. All of that is understood.

On the other hand, when I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaught.

Sometimes, reality has to play a hand.

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Look, I don't mind that Fournette wants money, and I understand that someone will pay him more than you or I might. Hey, it's the NFL, where a lot of players grab the cash by the fistful.

But top-five money?


Last season, Fournette was the 19th in the league in rushing yards, the bottom-line stat for a running back. The year before, he was tied for 61st. I know, I know. Fournette catches a lot of passes, and he's been good enough in the playoffs to earn some catchy little nicknames, and his team needs him -- all of that is going to drive up his price tag. But eve with inflation, it shouldn't be seen as top five.

But top-five?


You know what a top-five running back is making right now. Try $12.5 million. That's how much Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb make. Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Zeke Elliott and Dalvin Cook make more.

Then there are Jonathan Taylor, Joe Mixon, Najee Harris and Antonio Harris. All of them (plus Elliott and Cook) were 1,000-yard rushers last season.

Again, Fournette is going to get a huge check from someone. No doubt about it. He's solid (if not great). He's clutch.

But the Bucs shouldn't pay him too high over slot. It just takes cash out of someone else's hands. (And no, the Patriots -- who he visited on Monday -- won't overpay him, either).

At the bottom line, the Bucs don't need Fournette to be Jim Brown or Barry Sanders. They need a complimentary piece, a 50-yard a gme guy. Fournette fits in with the Bucs.

For the right price.

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