The minute news broke the Jaguars waived running back Leonard Fournette, the Chicago Bears seemed like a prime destination for the former fourth-overall pick. The Bears immediately became betting favorites to snag Fournette, largely due to their lack of depth at running back coupled with David Montgomery’s recent groin injury.
Montgomery is slated to miss just 2-4 weeks, but his absence has highlighted a sparse running backs room that includes 5’6″ gadget back Tarik Cohen, experimental new running back Cordarrelle Patterson, who has served as a wide receiver and kick returner his entire career and the trio of Ryan Nall, Artavis Pierce and Napoleon Maxwell, who have a combined two carries in regular season action.
After going unclaimed on waivers Tuesday, Fournette officially became a free agent and can now be signed by any of the 31 other teams, so he’s there for the taking.
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Unconfirmed Rumor Says Bears Have Interest in Fournette
Austin Fuglestad, podcaster and founder of The Brawl Network, shared a rumor that has yet to be confirmed by anyone, much less a major NFL analyst. Fuglestad tweeted that his sources heard the Bears were among the teams who had the most interest in Fournette.
Whether the rumor is true or not — it should be. The Bears were one of the worst rushing teams in the league last year, averaging just 91.1 yards a game on the ground. In his 36 starts with the Jags, Fournette had 2,631 yards rushing and 1,009 yards receiving. He had 1,674 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns last year, and he would instantly boost this Bears running game.
Yes, the Bears’ offensive line is still a concern, and yes, David Montgomery is already supposed to be their workhorse, but why not go out and get the best player currently available at what will very likely be a very affordable price?
Fournette is Affordable, But Would He Want to Play for Bears?
As Bleacher Report notes, Fournette to Chicago makes a ton of sense due to their need at the position and his connection to quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, who served as the OC in Jacksonville last year:
“Bringing in Fournette as early-season insurance would make sense, but that isn’t the only reason why Chicago could be a sneaky destination. Bears quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo was Jacksonville’s offensive coordinator last season when Fournette broke out as a pass-catcher. With the Bears facing plenty of uncertainty under center—and a camp competition between Mitchell Trubisky and former Jaguars signal-caller Nick Foles—bringing in a dual-threat back who could take pressure off the quarterback wouldn’t be a bad idea. With more than $16 million in cap space remaining, Chicago should have no trouble signing Fournette from a financial perspective.”
With other teams in the division actively doing things to make their teams better — like the Vikings adding Yannick Ngakoue, for example — Chicago can’t afford to count on their current corps of running backs when there is one available who would instantly give them a two-headed monster in the backfield. The Bears should absolutely look into signing Fournette; now that he has cleared waivers, they could sign him for the league minimum or slightly more.
Whether he would want to play for Chicago is another story.
The Bears have a storied history at the running back position, but according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, Fournette may be leaning towards playing for a run-heavy team, and that has not been Matt Nagy’s forte.
Fournette would be a great fit in Nagy’s system, but the system doesn’t rely as heavily on the running game as he may like. Still, the opportunity to assist a questionable quarterback situation by adding another talented back to the mix seems like something the Bears have to do if they’re truly serious about winning now.