The Jacksonville Jaguars are going through a sort of shift as an organization. Although certain prominent pieces are still in place such as GM David Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone, they got rid of Executive Tom Coughlin.
As they move forward, they are looking to shed themselves of players with looming contracts as well as personal gripes against the team in order to establish a new culture. This was apparent from their previous moves of getting rid of Jalen Ramsey who publicly voiced displeasure, and now appears to be the case with former first round selection Leonard Fournette.
Fournette was a stud coming out of LSU, his combination of power and speed was rare, and his punishing running style appealed to many in the NFL. For that reason, he was selected 4th overall and helped lead the Jaguars franchise to an AFC Championship game. After a flurry of injuries due to his running style as well as Jacksonville’s dependence on him in the offense, the team has seemingly decided to try and recoup some assets as the 25 year old is entering a contract season.
Should the Dolphins pounce?
According to an ESPN report from Adam Schefter, Jacksonville has spoken to at least 5 teams about potentially dealing the workhorse. The Dolphins are one of those teams.
For the Dolphins, many think a move would not make sense as they have signed RB Jordan Howard to a 2-year deal. Both backs have a similar play style and are the exact same age. Additionally, Howard is a more productive weapon in the passing game which is a skill valued highly in the modern NFL. However, it is important to note why the fit would be great for this young Dolphins team.
If Miami is looking to succeed immediately, they must play an old school style of football. This means run the ball and play tough defense. The latter appears to be possible as the Dolphins defense played significantly better down the stretch of the 2019 season. With the NFL Draft rapidly approaching, the Dolphins will bolster their offensive line early and ideally often, not only to protect their eventual young signal caller but to also help an historically putrid rushing attack.
Adding Fournette will allow the Phins to have two running backs which defenses do not want to tackle. Over the course of a game, being able to cycle in a fresh pair of legs with just as much bruising ability is an asset many teams would covet. Eventually, Miami would be able to dictate the tempo of the game and control the ball, something which is key in the development of a young QB.
If Miami would be able to send a mid round pick, potentially a late 3rd or 4th round selection, even for a one-year rental, then it may be worth it. The trade would allow the Dolphins to focus on other needs in the second round, and select a potential replacement later in the draft. Considering this is a deep class for running backs, finding a potential starter or rotational piece in the 5th round is possible.
Leonard Fournette was in discussion of being the best young back in football, his skills have not disappeared. Potentially, a fresh start is exactly what the uber talented and physical runner may need at this point in his career. Worst case, you spend a mid tier pick on a player who does not work well for you. This would be a good gamble with high upside that does not cash out. However, if Fournette does return to form, Miami would possess one of the most imposing running attacks in the league, with 2 former 1,000 yard rushers in the backfield. At the end of the season, if Fournette does not return to Miami due to him pricing himself out of the market, then at least the Phins will recoup the pick they sent away from the compensatory formula and it’s a wash.
If the price is right, adding Leonard Fournette could be a move that propels Miami’s offense and elevates their running game to the next level. Other teams will likely raise the price for Fournette as they may be in more desperate situations, in this case Chris Grier will simply select a younger and cheaper option on Saturday night.
What do you think? Should the Dolphins take a chance on Fournette or are you happy with the Dolphins current depth at the position? Let us know in the comments below, or join the conversation @PhinsPod on Twitter and Instagram.