With the NFL trade deadline rapidly approaching on Nov. 2, speculation that Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones could be moved has been heating up.
With Leonard Fournette now the bell cow in head coach Bruce Arians’ offense, Jones has taken a back seat and his playing time has been reduced game by game. Head coach Bruce Arians said earlier this year that Jones needed to play better but shot down any rumors of Jones being moved during his press conference on Wednesday.
“No, none at all,” Arians said. “It’s a long season, and just that scenario that happened last year and still with COVID, you can’t have enough good backs.”
It’s been a rough go of late for Jones, who came up just short of his first career 1,000-yard season in 2020, rushing for 978 yards on a healthy 5.1 yards per carry. Jones then suffered a pregame injury before Tampa Bay’s Wild Card game against the Washington Football Team. “Playoff Lenny” and then “Lombardi Lenny” was born as Fournette became a focal point of the offense in Jones’ absence, leading the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory.
This year, Jones was motivated to get his starting gig back, but in Week 2 against the Falcons, that thought went up in smoke. It started with questionable effort on a catch and run where he elected to go out of bounds instead of going for a first down, and it ended with a badly missed block where quarterback Tom Brady was sacked.
Fournette is now essentially a three-down back for Tampa Bay, rushing for 332 yards on 4.3 yards per carry. He has also chipped in as a receiver, hauling in 25 receptions for 213 yards.
The price for the 24-year-old will be high for Tampa Bay, but if a team comes calling with a cornerback to offer, general manager Jason Licht might pounce.