By: Ryan Cooley
The Jacksonville Jaguars released Leonard Fournette on Monday. Many were surprised that they would let go of a running back that eclipsed 1,600 total yards his rookie year and 1,300 total yards last year. However, it is never wise to just look at basic stats.
He only managed a 64 grade from Pro Football Focus last season. Even in his spectacular rookie season, he only received a 62.4 grade. For comparison, five RBs that were taken in the 2017 draft currently have a career grade of 90+, while Fournette is sitting at an underwhelming 67.3. This ranks 13th out of all RBs taken in the 2017 draft.
Even if teams thought he could produce at a high level, there is still the issue of injuries and attitude. Since 2016, Fournette has suffered eight injuries that have forced him to miss time. There is also his attitude problem, which landed him a one-game suspension in 2019 after getting in a fight with Bill’s player.
Jag’s head coach Doug Marrone said they could not find any team that was willing to part with a draft pick for Fournette. This shows there may not be a big market for the 4th year RB.
Here are five potential landing spots for Leonard Fournette
The Steelers are far from having a solid backfield. Conner can’t stay healthy, Samuels is more of a receiving back, and Snell and McFarland are unproven. Fournette would give Pittsburgh a solid starter.
I am unsure how well Ben can play after a major injury to his elbow last season. This may lead to them relying more on a ground and pound offense. One thing for sure is that Pittsburgh’s offensive line is much better than Jacksonville’s.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There is no hiding that the Bucs are in Super Bowl or bust mode. The offense is already stacked with Brady, Evans, Godwin, and their TE trio of Gronk, Howard, and Brate. Adding Fournette would be yet another weapon that defenses would have to worry about.
Right now, Ronald Jones is slated to be the 1st and 2nd down back with LeSean McCoy to be the third-down back. Jones has not been impressive in his first two years in the league. If Arians is worried that Jones cannot get the job done, do not be surprised if he attempts to reel in Fournette.
Fournette has mentioned multiple times that much of his frustration stems from losing so many games. Tampa is in win-now mode, so he may have an interest in signing with them.
The Seahawks have been a frustrating offense for a while now. They have the second-best QB in the league, yet they don’t act like it. Brian Schottenheimer continues to hold Wilson back by employing a run-first offense.
Wilson said this offseason that he wants Seattle to be more aggressive, but no one knows if they will do that. If Schottenheimer wants to stay down the road of a ground and pound offense, they may be interested in Fournette. We saw him as the bell cow back in Jacksonville, which something Seattle has not had since Marshawn Lynch
I believe that Miles Sanders is going to a very good RB in this league. However, he has been banged up this camp, which may lead to Philly considering signing Fournette. Many teams are straying away from bell cow backs and use a rotation of running backs instead. Fournette and Sanders would rotate while Scott plays the 3rd down back role.
Fournette would also give them a running back that is very physical and could get a lot of carries at the goal-line.
Kansas City Chiefs
NFL fans would throw a fit if this offense got Fournette. They already possess the best passing game in the league, and now their RB room would be stacked with him and rookie, Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Edwards-Helaire is set to receive most of the touches since Damien Williams opted out for the 2020 season. Andy Reid may want to sign Fournette to add not only depth but a player that can split carries with the rookie.
Much like the Eagles, Fournette could also play that bulldozer type running back on third and short and goal-line situations overall, I am not confident in Fournette ending up on any of these teams. The fact that no one was willing to give up even a 7th round draft pick for him shows what front offices and coaching staffs think of him.
I am a firm believer in RBs being the most replaceable position in the league. I would not overpay for a running back no matter how good they are. It will be interesting to see where Fournette ends up this season or if he ends up anywhere at all.