On Saturday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter revealed on Twitter that the Jacksonville Jaguars have been shopping franchise running back Leonard Fournette ahead of Thursday’s NFL Draft.
Jaguars have had trade discussions with other teams regarding RB Leonard Fournette, league sources tell ESPN. Fournette is due $4.16 million in base salary in 2020. It's a situation that bears watching as this week's draft approaches.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 18, 2020
Fournette is on the last year of his rookie contract and would be owed a very manageable $4.16 million dollars in 2020.
Would the “win-now” Steelers be interested in landing a player of Fournette’s talents?
SportsLine lists the Steelers as one of the top four trade teams, behind the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions.
The Bills (+300) are the favorites to land Leonard Fournette, according to our oddsmakers pic.twitter.com/UR6ac40IDd
— SportsLine (@SportsLine) April 20, 2020
Speculation of course, has started.
Mike Florio and Chris Simms think the Steelers could or should be interested in landing the productive former 4th overall pick.
Simms and I spent some time trying to identify the teams that could be or should be interested in Leonard Fournette: Chiefs, Steelers, Rams, Eagles, Bills, Colts.
Who do you think should pursue him?
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) April 20, 2020
Fournette had a very strong year in 2019 with over 1600 yards from scrimmage, despite playing on the 20th ranked offense. The former LSU back rushed for 1,152 yards on 265 carries along with 76 receptions for 522 yards but only three touchdowns. The 25 year old back has 800 touches in three seasons with the Jaguars and figures to have lots of tread on the tires.
Jacksonville has in recent years been on the rebuilding path after their 2017 AFC Title Game appearance, jettisoning Jalen Ramsey, Nick Foles, Dante Fowler and Calais Campbell. Pass rushing specialist Yannick Ngakoue is also thought to be available for trade.
However, despite being available, the Jaguars have not found any takers yet.
The #Jaguars had trade talks centered around RB Leonard Fournette for more than a month, and they circled back with teams in the last three days, sources say. No takers yet. A sign Fournette could be headed out of Jacksonville before the 2020 season.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 20, 2020
A team trading for Fournette would likely only have one year of service, especially a team with the salary cap constraints of the Steelers.
Despite the odds from Sportsline, there have been no legitimate rumors that the Steelers would be interested in making a trade for Fournette.
Steelers among Betting Favorites to Land former Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette
The Steelers are among the betting favorites to land former Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, according to odds released on Monday by Betonline.ag.
Fournette, the former No. 4 overall pick, was waived by the Jaguars after three seasons on Monday, following his request for a trade this offseason. Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said that the team tried to trade Fournette and could not find a willing partner. Fournette is scheduled to make over $4 million in salary this season
He’s currently going through the waiver process. If he’s claimed, the claiming team will have to honor his contract from the Jaguars. If he goes unclaimed, Fournette can sign a new contract with any team.
That combination of factors has the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots as the odds-on favorites to land the former LSU rusher.
The Bears are No. 19 in the waiver order and have over $15 million in salary cap space, while New England has the second-most cap space in the league with over $34 million per Spotrac.
Despite not having nearly as much cap space, the Steelers aren’t far down the list for Fournette’s services.
Following the leaders, Tampa Bay is given 7/2 odds of landing Fournette, then Washington at 4/1, Houston at 8/1, Atlanta and Seattle at 10/1 and Pittsburgh at 12/1.
Chris Simms Forecasts Jameis Winston to the Steelers in Spite of Evidence
It’s the speculation that just won’t die.
This evening, Chris Simms, former college and NFL quarterback forecast on Twitter that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston will sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
— Chris Simms (@CSimmsQB) March 16, 2020
Winston is slated to became a free agent after spending his only five seasons in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team that made him the number one pick in the 2015 draft. The 26-year-old former Florida State QB went 28-42, throwing for over 19,000 yards and 121 touchdowns against 88 interceptions.
In his podcast “Chris Simms Unbuttoned,” Simms laid out his argument in a segment with his famous father, Phil Simms, saying, “If I’m the Pittsburgh Steelers, I would probably call Jameis Winston.” A theory that 26-year NFL analyst Phil Simms doubled down on, interjecting “That would be, the first place I would look and try and work it out … and is he better than their backup quarterbacks? I think so.”
Simms goes on to compare Winston’s situation to that of Teddy Bridgewater who went to the Saints on a “show me” deal.
“If Winston goes to Pittsburgh, he’s going to have at least a good team around him, he’ll have a chance to show people ‘hey, look, I can be a starting quarterback’ and further his career.”
Simms and Simms go on to say that the Steelers believe they’re still a Super Bowl contender but that the window is “closing fast” and need “insurance” in case Roethlisberger goes down.
However, both Simms seem to couch the the idea of the Steelers getting the quarterback with the caveat of “if Winston leaves the Buccaneers.”
You can listen to the Simms’ explain in full why they think Winston to the Steelers would make sense starting at the 23:45 mark.
This isn’t the first time an analyst has connected Winston to the Steelers. Last week, ESPN’s Matt Bowen said that the Steelers would be the best fit schematically for the talented but interception-prone quarterback.
The Buccaneers have yet to make a decision on whether or not they plan on resigning Winston, however NBC Sports’ NFL insider Peter King believes that it is “likely” that Winston returns to the team that drafted him.
Even if Winston would make sense for the Steelers, there’s still the matter of the Steelers tenuous salary cap situation, which neither Bowen or the Simms touched on. The Steelers are already spending over $30 million of cap space on Roethlisberger and will need to make cuts in order to get under the salary cap for the start of the new league year without Winston.
The Steelers have also said they want to retain outside linebacker Bud Dupree. There’s almost no way they could do that and sign another quarterback.