UPDATE 9:18 p.m.: Leonard Fournette has signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and will compete with Ronald Jones, LeSean McCoy, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the backfield.
UPDATE 6:07 p.m.: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are reportedly one of the teams interested in Fournette. Their backfield is led by Ronald Jones, with veteran LeSean McCoy and rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn competing for an opportunity.
Several teams are making a push to sign Leonard Fournette and sources say the #Buccaneers are one of them. Stay tuned.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) September 2, 2020
UPDATE 4:58 p.m.: The Patriots have expressed interest in Fournette, according to reporter Jeff Howe. They have a sizable depth chart, so we’ll see if this turns into anything more than just kicking the tires.
The Patriots have expressed interest in Leonard Fournette, per source. We'll see if it leads to anything. The fourth overall pick from 2017 has been a free agent for about 24 hours.— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) September 2, 2020
UPDATE 12:56 p.m.: Bears head coach Matt Nagy said the team likes where it’s at with the current group of running backs.
When asked about any potential interest in free agent Leonard Fournette, Bears coach Matt Nagy said the team likes where it’s at with their current group of running backs.— Jeff Dickerson (@DickersonESPN) September 2, 2020
The Jacksonville Jaguars waived fourth year running back Leonard Fournette on Monday. The move was not shocking considering the organization declined his fifth year option and had been trying to deal him throughout the offseason.
Fournette is entering his fourth year in the NFL, which means he is not yet a vested veteran. Due to that detail, he went through the waiver wire process. That gave the other 31 teams a chance to place a claim on him and pick up the final year of his contract. Waivers ran on Tuesday and nobody placed a claim on Fournette, which means he is now a free agent and can sign with any team in the league.
The NFL season starts a week from Thursday, with most teams getting underway a week from Sunday. Fournette has a pair of 1,000-yard rushing seasons under his belt, but has struggled with efficiency the past two years. He led the Jaguars in receptions last season, but was one of the most inefficient pass-catching running backs in the league.
He’s effectively a two-down back, and in a league that focuses more and more on passing, it cuts into his value. There is speculation the New England Patriots would be interested, but they’ve also got a lot of options on their roster right now. The Los Angeles Rams have some questions at the running back position, but with their investment in Cam Akers, head coach Sean McVay said on Monday the team “feel[s] good about the guys we have in house” and are “not looking at anyone externally.”
Roster cuts are coming this Saturday, but Fournette is free to sign as soon as he can find a team. It would not be surprising to see it take a couple days as teams finalize roster cut plans.