Should the Eagles pursue RB Leonard Fournette following his release from Jaguars?

NFL: NOV 17 Jaguars at Colts
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – NOVEMBER 17: Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) runs outside during the NFL game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Indianapolis Colts on November 17, 2019 at Lucas Oil Stadium, in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)

It didn’t take long for this week to get interesting. Mike Garafolo reported that the Jaguars will be parting ways with running back Leonard Fournette.

Should the Philadelphia Eagles have interest in a running back whom many once considered a draft target?

The fit

The Eagles were willing to release Jordan Howard this offseason and have been keen to find a replacement without giving up too much in the way of capital – be that trade value or salary. We know the Eagles are in a sticky cap mess heading into 2021, and it became clear early that they wouldn’t want to pay a rusher more than a veteran’s minimum. This forced names like Carlos Hyde, Devonta Freeman, and LeSean McCoy off the scent.

Training Camp has become a proving ground for the likes of Corey Clement and Elijah Holyfield, who are vying to prove their worth and show an ability to hold down that RB3 role. But if there is any doubt that they may not quite be at the level of Jordan Howard just yet, then the Eagles may wish to monitor the Fournette situation.

The player

Taken before Patrick Mahomes, Christian McCaffrey, and Deshaun Watson (nicely played, Jags), Fournette has long been a perplexing player. He’s battled plenty of injuries (missed 11 games in his first two seasons) since departing LSU, been fined for sitting on a bench while inactive (??), and gotten into a boxing match with teammate Shaq Lawson. His maturity and work ethic have been called into question on several occasions, and the Jags earlier refused to pick up his fifth-year option before parting ways with him today.

On the field though, he’s part of a dying breed of running back that Pederson’s offense craves. Fournette is a volume rusher who will wear down defenses by just pounding through holes relentlessly. As nasty and as physical as they come, he ended 2019 as the league’s seventh-highest rusher, racking up 1,152 yards. He’s tallied 1,215 scrimmage yards per year on average and has eight 100-yard rushing games since entering the NFL, with 17 career games with at least 100 yards from scrimmage…the most in Jags history.

Leonard Fournette and his career to date really are a tale of two halves. On one hand, he’s a dominant, arguably underrated running back with a less than ideal injury history. On the other, a player who has really struggled to acclimatize himself to life in the Jags organization.

Flip the coin

Signing Leonard Fournette could be the perfect situational move, or one that causes a trainwreck down the line. On the surface, this is very ‘Jordan Howard’ (but with added baggage) in acquiring a young back who needs a big year to secure a future elsewhere.

What worries me though is that if the Jags cut him, there was clearly no trade value…and he’d been dangled for quite some time. If the Eagles had legitimate interest, surely they would’ve shown their hands there and then?

The wildcard now is that Fournette isn’t tied to an $8M cap hit. The Eagles could very easily present a team-friendly deal at a fraction of the price, giving Fournette a second chance on a new team. This is much more appealing and they could get out of it quickly if needed.

It will all come down to the risk/reward factor. is the former Jags running back worth taking a punt on? If he wasn’t a few months ago, is he now that there is no compensation or hefty cap hit for a dream scheme fit? Only time will tell…

Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire