Detroit Lions News: Exploring a trade for Leonard Fournette

(Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)
(Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images) /

As the Jacksonville Jaguars continue to rebuild their roster, they are expected to field offers on yet another premier name. Still, the Detroit Lions should be cautious before rushing to the trade table.

The Jaguars are heading for rock bottom; they haven’t arrived yet. Although some may point to the day, they traded away the league’s top corner Jalen Ramsey as ‘rock bottom’ or even when the organization rushed to reward career back-up quarterback Nick Foles (since traded to Chicago) to an outrageously over-the-top contract.  Now, as suspected former first-round pick Leonard Fournette appears to be on the trade block, but should the Detroit Lions be interested?

Many Lions fans had hoped General Manager (GM) Bob Quinn was interested in swinging a deal for Jacksonville’s edge rusher, Yannick Ngakoue.  Ngakoue was franchise tagged by the Jaguars after expressing he’s not interested in signing a long-term agreement with the team.  Since being tagged, Ngakoue has regularly pleaded with the organization via social media to move on and find a trade soon.

Ngakoue is just what the Detroit Lions need playing opposite Trey Flowers, but will Quinn be able to put the pieces together to land the star edge rusher?  Who knows, but we are left to salivate dreaming of the pass-rushing duo plus being able to draft a lock-down corner like Jeff Okudah this Thursday.  Suddenly it’d be a defense that performed in the cellar of the league last season that has potential to be a top-15 or so in this season.  Imagine that, with the offense that is in place.

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Speaking of offense, if the Detroit Lions fail to land Ngakoue, should Quinn target running back Leonard Fournette?

As expected, insider Adam Schefter confirms the Jaguars who currently have 12 draft picks in this year’s NFL Draft are presently fielding offers for their former first-round running back.  After a tremendous career at LSU, Fournette was selected by the Jaguars 4th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft.  It’s a rarity to see a runner taken that high in today’s league, but it goes to show you how well thought of he’d been entering the league.

Injury concerns have followed Fournette throughout his career, primarily a lingering foot injury, but last season, his third as a professional was more than promising, Fournette enjoyed a traffic season playing for a below-average team.

Despite facing an eight-man box, meaning a safety was regularly with-in five yards of the line of scrimmage to help stop the run, Fournette ran for a career-high 1152 yards.  One of Fournette’s downfalls had been his lack of production in the passing game.  He’s more of a thumper in between the tackles, as a 230-pound bruiser he likes to punish his tacklers.  Well, he waved a finger at his nay-sayers last season, corralling 76 receptions totaling 522 receiving yards, both career-highs.

With the Jaguars recently expressing their desire to trade Fournette, it only hurts his trade-stock entering the NFL Draft.  It isn’t too far fetched to assume the Detroit Lions could have a possibility to add Fournette with one of their two third-round draft picks.  Maybe even a fourth-round pick.  At that price, I would be all for it, on one condition, if the team picks up Fournette’s fifth-year rookie deal option before the May 4th deadline making him part of the Detroit Lions backfield for the next two years.

It’s hard to trade a third or fourth-round pick for a 25-year old runner when the draft pick has plenty of potential to become a starter.  Detroit could draft a rookie runner for at a much cheaper rate, but the difference being Fournette is now a proven commodity after last season’s production.

It will also be hard to fathom the Detroit Lions would move a pick for a runner that in all likelihood won’t be with the team after his rookie deal expires in two seasons, but that tends to be the life of an NFL running back.  Franchises run them during their rookie contract, and then immediately look for their replacement.

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Fournette is set to make a touch over $4-million this year carrying a cap hit a bit over $8-million.  Understanding it’s a two-year commitment with no large contract extension, it’s a deal that the Detroit Lions need to consider making.  Fournette would be a perfect runner in Darrell Bevell’s offense and will provide a nice one-two punch with Kerryon Johnson.