James White Rumors: Patriots FA RB Linked to Tom Brady Reunion with Buccaneers

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass to New England Patriots running back James White (28) during an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)
Mark Tenally/Associated Press

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers already reunited Tom Brady with Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown last season. They may be about to do the same with another former favorite target of his.

ESPN's Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler reported Sunday that the Bucs could try to bring in running back James White in free agency to give Brady a reliable pass-catcher out of the backfield. On Tuesday, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported the Buccaneers were among "several teams" inquiring about White in free agency.

White spent his first seven seasons in New England—six of which were alongside Brady—emerging as one of football's best pass-catching backs. The 29-year-old recorded at least 56 receptions in each of his final four seasons paired with Brady. 

Bucs backs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II combined to make 64 receptions for 398 yards and a touchdown last season. Fournette was more regularly used as a pass-catcher, but he's a free agent and could look to cash in on his stellar payoff run. Catching the ball out of the backfield isn't at the top of Fournette's skill list, either, so the Bucs could look to improve on third downs even if he returns.

White was not nearly as effective last season without Brady, hauling in 49 passes for 375 yards and a touchdown while adding 121 yards and two scores on the ground. The Patriots offense as a whole sputtered as Cam Newton struggled to find a rhythm as a passer.

White should find a strong market even if he doesn't join Brady in Tampa, with teams likely eager to bring one of the game's best third-down backs into the fold.