Should the Carolina Panthers go after Leonard Fournette?

(Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) Leonard Fournette
(Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) Leonard Fournette /

Should the Carolina Panthers consider making a move for Leonard Fournette after the running back was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars?

The Jacksonville Jaguars made the surprising move to waive star running back Leonard Fournette. This comes just one day after they traded away stud defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to the Minnesota Vikings, which poses plenty of questions about which direction the franchise is currently going in.

Fournette is a former first-round pick that has proven to be a more than capable starter in the NFL. He bounced back last season after suffering his fair share of injury problems as a sophomore. There should be no shortage of suitors, but would the Carolina Panthers be willing to bring him in as a one-two punch with All-Pro back Christian McCaffrey at this stage?

This may seem like an unlikely scenario, but why not? The Panthers are looking to take some off the load off their new face of the franchise going forward after he signed a four-year, $64 million extension this year. Acquiring Fournette would give Carolina another dynamic weapon on offense and would ensure they would not skip a beat when McCaffrey needs some time off the field.

The former LSU standout came into the league at the same time as McCaffrey. He was taken No. 4 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, while the Panthers managed to get the Stanford product at No. 8.

Fournette logged 265 carries last season on his way to 1,165 rushing yards, three touchdowns, and a yards-per-carry average of 4.3. This was despite the Jaguars less than stellar play at the quarterback position. But the organization decided he was simply not a good fit for their new offensive style.

How could the Carolina Panthers land Leonard Fournette?

His release will obviously come with claims of possible tanking claims. Clemson’s star quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the prize for anyone with the No. 1 overall pick in 2021. And he comes with franchise-changing potential that will be hard to turn down once the evaluation process has concluded.

As for the Panthers, they should have enough financial resources available to make this happen should they wish. Mike Davis has been an impressive contributor during training camp. But releasing him would save $3 million and few would argue that Fournette is not a significant upgrade on the veteran.

This would Carolina’s offensive coordinator Joe Brady another powerful player to utilize next season. A backfield containing Fournette and McCaffrey at the same time would be a nightmare for opposing defenses. And the space it could create for star wide receiver trio D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and Curtis Samuel might see them reach heights not seen before.

Stranger things have happened. Getting Fournette to Carolina would arguably give them the best running back tandem in the NFL and it is a discussion that needs to be had, at the very least.

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The Panthers have a little more than $12 million in financial resources available, according to Over the Cap. This would increase to $15 million if Davis is released in preference for somebody like Fournette. But getting the Pro Bowler to take a lesser role in Carolina might be easier said than done.