By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Jacksonville Jaguars have waived running back Leonard Fournette. Should Bill Belichick and the Patriots come calling?
Financially, it’s plausible and sensible. Per Spotrac, any team that claims Fournette off waivers can get him for just $4.1 million in both real-life and cap money, non-guaranteed. Even without the cost-effective nature of the signing, Fournette is the kind of talent that always inspires some Foxboro-centric discussions.
And, as is tradition, plenty of Belichick memes.
Spotrac believes the Patriots would be a logical destination for Fournette based on “need & injury.” But do either of those things apply now?
Sony Michel may have an established history of making it late to training camp in order to recover from surgery or nurse injuries, but he’s back now. Lamar Miller is on the PUP list (UPDATE: Miller was at practice Monday, an indication that he’s now activated off PUP). But the rest of the running back depth chart – James White, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, and undrafted rookie J.J. Taylor – have been there almost the entire camp.
More importantly, do the Patriots need a back with Fournette’s talent? The talent is certainly there. Jacksonville didn’t release him due to a lack of production. He’s coming off a season in which he averaged 4.3 yards per carry, caught 76 passes, and gained 1,674 yards from scrimmage. The Pats do not have a back over 5-foot-11.
But the one player who may ultimately hold Belichick back from taking a Fournette flyer is Harris. The second-year back out of Alabama, by all accounts, has stood out throughout training camp. He’s taking full advantage of the opportunity laid in front of him after Michel had to miss the first wave of practices, giving him a heavy workload as an early-down runner and goal line back.
“It’s been good. It’s given me an opportunity to improve,” Harris said in a recent video conference. “That’s what I think is most important, coming in and showing that I can be dependable, I can be competitive, I can play the game at a high level. Just want to come in here and improve every single day no matter what is asked of me, no matter what coaches need me to do, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.”
Fournette may be worth a look if Belichick believes he can get him to buy into the Patriots’ program without being an issue off the field. But if Harris is ready to go and be productive on a $675,000 salary, then the Patriots may not bother with $4.1 million for a player that couldn’t fetch any sort of trade value and was released because, per Ian Rapoport, “[head coach] Doug [Marrone] is trying to clean up the place.”
All that being said, Fournette probably signs with the Pats and has an All-Pro season because of course Belichick would double-bird the league like that.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff or send him a nasty email at email@example.com.