Just a few days ago, the Jacksonville Jaguars had announced that they would not be picking up Leonard Fournette’s fifth-year option. That did not come as a surprise considering the trade rumors that have surfaced this offseason, as well as the comments he made about the team's QB situation in which they didn't seem to take too kindly.
The Jaguars seem to be looking for a new identity, as many of the key players from their successful 2017 season have been either shipped, or put on the trading block; they traded both of their starting cornerbacks from that season, with Jalen Ramsey being shipped to the Rams and AJ Bouye being shipped to the Broncos. They also shipped defensive end Calais Campbell to the Baltimore Ravens.
From the looks of it, Leonard Fournette and Yannick Ngakoue will be the next two to leave Jacksonville, as they have both been at odds with the organization.
While he has fallen short of Jacksonville’s expectations through three seasons, Fournette has still proven himself to be a quality back in the NFL. He’s still a bruiser, and he’s still a hard-nosed RB capable of giving you those four yards per carry.
Despite only scoring three touchdowns, 2019 was Fournette’s best year when it comes to the amount of yards he accumulated. He gained 1,152 yards on the ground and 522 receiving yards; more receiving yards than his first two seasons combined.
Fournette has built a reputation for being hard to work with, as the Jaguars have suspended/fined multiple times since his arrival in 2017. He also missed half of the season in 2018, leaving teams a little worried when it comes to his durability. However, when he’s locked in and healthy, he’s been able to showcase Pro Bowl potential.
Here are the three best potential suitors for Leonard Fournette, if the Jaguars decide to trade him:
Los Angeles Rams
2019 saw the death of the Rams’ running game that made them such a scary team in 2018. Todd Gurley dealt with injuries throughout the season, and it showed as the Rams were 26th in the league when it came to rushing. The O-Line had their struggles too, but their lack of depth at RB did not help either. With Gurley gone, the Rams could be looking for a group of backs to fill the void left at that position.
They drafted a talented RB in Cam Akers, but they could use a veteran back to make sure he does not take too much of a pounding during his rookie year. Plus with Fournette’s increasing production as a receiver, he could be used as an asset in the Rams’ offense that was very pass-heavy last year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs have made some scary additions this offseason when it comes to their passing attack. However, when you look at their situation at RB, there are still question marks heading into next year. Perhaps a guy like Fournette can help add some balance to the Buccaneers’ offense and vary their attack.
Ronald Jones was their top rusher last year, only gaining 724 yards on the ground. He was not extremely productive in the passing game either, only gaining 309 yards there. They did pick up Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the third round of the draft, but Tampa could still use a proven back like Fournette. A well-respected guy like Tom Brady should be able to keep a guy like him in check better than anyone in Jacksonville ever could have.
Just like the Buccaneers, the Bears have made it their mission to address their passing attack this offseason. They drafted Cole Kmet, who is projected to be the best TE out of this year’s draft. They also picked up Jimmy Graham, who is still a capable receiving target despite being past his prime at 33 years old. Both guys should be great complementary targets to go alongside with Allen Robinson.
However, when you look at their situation at QB, they may need a rushing attack to take pressure off of their shoulders. Trubisky’s struggles were well-documented last year, and Nick Foles has failed to produce at a high level for any team not named the Philadelphia Eagles
Ranked 27th in the league last year, their running game is in serious need of an overhaul. David Montgomery had a rookie season that was not horrible, but far from great. Tarik Cohen is more productive as a pass-catching slot receiver than a RB due to his size and his style of play. So why not go after Fournette and save the amount of punishment Montgomery takes in the backfield?
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