The Jaguars cut loose a two-time 1,000-yard rusher Monday, waiving 25-year-old running back Leonard Fournette three months after declining his fifth-year option for 2021.
Jacksonville had a messy relationship with the former No. 4 overall pick; Fournette filed a grievance against the Jaguars in an attempt to recoup about $4.2 million in salary that was voided as a result of a one-game suspension in 2018. But after clearing waivers Tuesday, Fournette is a free agent permitted to sign with any club interested in his services.
Since entering the league in 2017, Fournette has rushed for 2,631 yards and 17 touchdowns, which rank seventh and 13th, respectively, over that span. Though his yards per carry of 3.95 ranked 67th, the Jaguars struggled to establish stability at the quarterback position and never managed to rank higher than 16th in team passing yards.
Here are five teams that would be a fit for Fournette.
Miles Sanders is coming off a rookie season in which he racked up over 1,300 yards from scrimmage, leaving little doubt as to who the Eagles’ No. 1 option out of the backfield is heading into the 2020 season. However, the depth chart thins out quickly behind him with Corey Clement and Boston Scott representing the next men up should Sanders miss some time.
If he doesn’t find any opportunities as a starter, Fournette could turn to Philadelphia and attempt to work his way into its rotation. Spotrac pegs them at $19 million under the salary cap, so affording the LSU product shouldn’t be a problem.
Washington Football Team
Washington has spent much of training camp divvying up reps between Adrian Peterson and third-round pick Antonio Gibson, suggesting the duo is slated to handle a bulk of the carries this year. Yet for a team short on offensive playmakers, adding Fournette would provide second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins with a valuable asset to help continue his progress under center.
Head coach Ron Rivera, who’s spent much of the offseason preaching the new culture being built in Washington, would have to weigh Fournette’s past disagreements with the production he could bring to D.C.
Los Angeles Rams
Todd Gurley is in Atlanta and the Rams are projected to start the season with a backfield composed of Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson and Cam Akers. Sean McVay and Co. still have hopes of returning to the playoffs after a disappointing 9-7 campaign in 2019. Signing Fournette could give them an even stronger return on investment than Gurley, who was limited by knee issues last year.
The deal would likely have to hinge on incentives, as the Rams rank 29th among NFL teams in cap space with only $3.58 million.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sure, why not? The Buccaneers have added Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and LeSean McCoy to an offense that already included Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, OJ Howard and Ronald Jones II, but Fournette is much younger than McCoy and Jones has played just one full season.
While Tampa Bay would have to get even more creative than the Rams in creating cap space, perhaps Fournette would be interested in joining a team all-in on winning the Super Bowl this season. If he plays up to potential, he could carve out a role as the Buccaneers’ top option out of the backfield.
Los Angeles Chargers
Following their decision to let Melvin Gordon walk in free agency, the Chargers are left with pass-catcher Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson as their primary ball handlers. Neither averages over 40 rushing yards per game over their careers, leaving an opportunity for a run-first back to take advantage.
The Chargers are starting the season with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback but have first-round pick Justin Herbert preparing to eventually take over as their franchise starter. By inserting Fournette into their offense, the Chargers would hope to gain consistency for a unit that could see some shuffling at its most important position later this year.