Leonard Fournette is available after being released by the Jaguars.
Leonard Fournette, who was selected No. 4 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, is no longer a member of the team that drafted him. After an offseason of reports that the Jaguars were trying to trade the running back, they were unable to find a partner and Fournette was released on Monday.
There have been a fair share of struggles for Fournette throughout his three-year career. He’s missed 12 games in his career with injuries and suspensions, has been the subject of character concerns and has sometimes been ineffective on the field. He averaged just 3.7 yards per carry over his first two seasons, though that did rise to 4.3 in the 2019 season.
But now without a team entering the 2020 NFL season, Leonard Fournette is now looking for a new gig. He’s not a pass-catcher out of the backfield by trade but he’s a powerful, experienced runner that NFL teams shallow at the position could look to add. So then, without having to give up draft capital for him, which clubs should aim to sign the new free-agent running back?
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Which NFL teams could sign Leonard Fournette for 2020?
3. Washington Football Team
The Derrius Guice situation didn’t leave the Washington Football Team high and dry at the running position as the ageless Adrian Peterson and youngsters Antonio Gibson and Bryce Love are still in the fold. Having said that, the miles on Peterson and the unproven nature of the youthful pair leave Washington in a position where they could stand to add a player like Fournette.
Young quarterback Dwayne Haskins had his struggles as a rookie but did improve late in the season. For that to continue in a new offense, they need to protect him a bit with an effective rushing attack. Adding Fournette to the fold would hopefully aid that, if he can prove to not be a locker room distraction.
2. Chicago Bears
Perhaps this is a bit short-sighted but the Chicago Bears are in a tough spot late in training camp. Second-year running back David Montgomery could miss up to a month with a groin injury, an ailment that could hinder him longer than projected given how it’s affected players in the past.
Tarik Cohen is still in Chicago but he’s very much a pass-catching threat who offers little elsewhere in the rushing attack. Fournette could come in and be the bruiser between the tackles that the Bears hope Montgomery can be while the second-year player is out of action. What would happen after that, however, is up for debate, which does bring some trepidation about this potential fit.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
On paper, the Steelers might look set at running back. They have James Conner returning after an injury-plagued 2019 campaign, Jaylen Samuels as a gadget back and rookie Anthony McFarland has fans. Yet, Conner’s injury history is a concern at this point, Samuels is limited and there have been mixed reviews about McFarland thus far in training camp.
Pittsburgh is hoping to drastically improve their offense from last season with the return of Ben Roethlisberger. However, the backfield is critical to that happening. To either help preserve Conner in a timeshare or to simply be a high-end backup, perhaps the Steelers would look to Fournette as a possible addition.