Jaguars Waive Running Back Leonard Fournette - Sup, Bears? | Bleacher Nation

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Jaguars Waive Running Back Leonard Fournette – Sup, Bears?

Chicago Bears

With starter David Montgomery on the mend, the Bears quickly signed Napoleon Maxwell for depth purposes.

But if they wanted to add a potential difference-maker to the group, one surprisingly made his way onto the waiver wire.

The Jaguars released Leonard Fournette, who would make for an intriguing fit. Fournette, 25, has two 1,000-yard rushing seasons in three years as a pro. And in 2019, Fournette rounded out his game by becoming a threat in the running game. Fournette caught 76 passes for 522 yards to go along with the 1,152 rushing yards he picked up in 2019. To put that in perspective, Fournette caught just 58 passes for 487 yards in 21 games played in his first two seasons.

So why cut bait on a the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft?

Fournette has talent. But a grievance with management soured the relationship between the two sides. That seems to be a growing trend in Jacksonville, which just saw Yannick Ngakoue leave about $7 million on the table just to walk away (and join the Vikings, to boot). I don’t imagine a one-game suspension in 2018 for his role in an on-field beef during a game with the Bills helped matters much, either.

Even after signing a back, the Bears could still make a move to give their running backs room a boost. But for now, the team is playing it as if Montgomery’s injury won’t keep him out long. However, that shouldn’t stop us from entertaining the idea of Fournette as a possible Bears fit.

Fournette broke onto the scene as a rookie in 2017, gaining 1,040 yards and scoring one touchdowns. And after an injury-shortened 2018 that saw him average just 3.3 yards per attempt in eight games, Fournette bounced back in a big way. The 2019 season saw Fournette set career highs in rushing yards (1,152) and yards per attempt (4.3). However, Pro Football Focus’ advanced data didn’t necessarily vibe with the solid traditional numbers Fournette posted. PFF ranked Fournette 47th among the 58 backs who played a qualifying number of snaps. Fournette’s 64.0 grade was the lowest in his three-year career. It landed him nine spots behind Bears starter David Montgomery, but five spots ahead of Tarik Cohen. And while Fournette’s running grade was adequate enough, his 37.3 pass-blocking grade was the sixth worst in all of football. Considering the passing game’s importance, this feels like a red flag.

Even still … Fournette is a change of scenery candidate. Moreover, this complicated financial situation suggests there could be a nice calculated gamble if he could be had for a bargain:

For what it’s worth, the Bears were rumored to be interested in Fournette with the third pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Although, knowing what we know now about the Bears’ pre-draft process, it’s more likely that was put out there to throw everyone off of what they were really doing.

UPDATE: Fournette has officially cleared waivers.



Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.