Even in an era where running backs have been devalued across the NFL, several teams still have a pressing need for a veteran like Leonard Fournette at the position.
Dalvin Cook appears to be the prize of the free agent market with training camps in full swing, but he isn't the only veteran who could step in and make an impact for the 2023 season.
Fournette remains available, and with a Super Bowl ring on his finger along with 4,478 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns through the first six seasons of his career, he has the potential to step in and upgrade a backfield-by-committee in need of a veteran presence.
League sources tell FanBuzz that interest in Fournette has been tepid since the 28-year-old requested and was granted his release by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in March.
However, with the preseason getting underway while front offices and coaching staffs around the league put their rosters under a microscope, several teams could come calling on the six-year veteran who boasts a career 4.0 yards per carry average.
Here's a look at Leonard Fournette's best free agent fits.
New England Patriots
The Patriots previously hosted Fournette for a visit prior to training camp, but the two sides were unable to come to terms on a deal.
New England seems intent on adding a veteran running back to complement Rhamondre Stevenson, Ty Montgomery, and second-year backs Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris. The Patriots have also been linked to Cook and Ezekiel Elliott, but Fournette could prove to be an effective and impactful consolation prize should either of those veteran backs wind up elsewhere.
Jonathan Taylor's availability for Indanapolis this season has become very much uncertain, especially after the 24-year-old left Colts training camp to rehab his injured ankle independently, amid contentious contract negotiations with the franchise and owner Jim Irsay.
Indianapolis might represent Fournette's best opportunity to become a walk into a starting role, with Zack Moss sidelined with a broken arm that required surgery, and only Deone Jackson and rookie Evan Hull standing in Fournette's way of the top spot on the depth chart in Taylor's absence. Even if Taylor returns and suits up for the Colts this season, Fournette's presence would limit the wear and tear on a back who has already dealt with ankle, toe, and quad injuries in his career.
Tony Pollard is back on the field for the Cowboys, and by all accounts from Oxnard looks ready to ease any lingering concerns from his broken leg and high-ankle sprain suffered in Dallas' playoff loss to the 49ers back in January.
Meanwhile, explosive rookie Deuce Vaughn has turned heads as an early training camp standout, after being chosen in the sixth-round of April's draft. However, all signs point to the Cowboys signing a veteran to add some insurance in the backfield, as well as a short-yardage and goal-line battering ram. Fournette may be an ideal fit, boasting 31 career touchdowns from inside the 10-yard line.
Not long ago the Cardinals would likely be working the phones, scouring the waiver wire, and kicking the tires on veteran running backs after Marlon Mack was lost for the season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon in practice. Instead, the Cardinals signed Stevie Scott from the USFL.
While Fournette only averaged 3.5 Yards per Carry, he might be the prototypical "thunder" to the lightning of speedy veteran James Conner who logged 229 total touches in 2022. Fournette's bruising between the tackles running style could spell Conner, and help boost a red-zone offense that finished last season ranked 11th in the NFL. Arizona's league-high $24.4 million in cap space wouldn't be a barrier to signing Fournette, either.
Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams aren't exactly teeming with depth at running back.
Behind Cam Akers, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal, the Rams' backfield consists of 2022 fifth-round pick Kyren Williams, who logged 35 carries as a rookie, this April's sixth-round pick Zach Evans, and journeyman Royce Freeman, who averaged just 2.9 yards per carry for the Houston Texans last season. If Los Angeles is serious about closing the gap on the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West, adding some veteran depth at running back can only help an offense that averaged only 97.7 yards per game last season.
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