For a moment, it looked like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were prepared to let Leonard Fournette walk away in free agency.
Then Tom Brady stepped in.
Fournette hit the open market a few days after Brady ended his short-lived retirement. The 27-year-old’s free agency tour took him to New England where he met with the Patriots, who stood to add reinforcements to their backfield following the 2021 season.
The fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft ultimately didn’t join Mac Jones’ arsenal, as he returned to the Bucs on a three-year deal. That new pact apparently came together very shortly after a phone exchange with Brady.
“At this time, I was a free agent, so I didn’t know if I was going to return to the Bucs or not — future was uncertain,” Fournette said Thursday on “The Rich Eisen Show.” “So, I just went around shopping, you know, see what teams had in store for me. When I went up to New England, he texted me. He was like, ‘Man, what’s your ass doing up there?’ I said, ‘Man, just shopping around, seeing what’s good for me, trying to see what’s available for myself to provide for my family.’ He was like, ‘Man, I’ll call you back. I’ll call you back.’ Next thing you know, Tampa calls me with an offer.”
Correspondence from Brady clearly holds a great deal of weight. In fact, power agent Drew Rosenhaus believes a phone call from the seven-time Super Bowl champion could be what brings client Rob Gronkowski out of retirement.