When reports began circulating over the weekend that the Jaguars were talking to teams about a trade for Leonard Fournette, the Buccaneers were one of the potential landing spots that people named pretty quickly. When SportsLine released odds for where he would end up, Tampa Bay’s were the seventh-highest.
However, ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported Monday morning that the Bucs aren’t expected to have interest in a deal for the running back “at this time,” largely because of how deep the class is in this week’s NFL Draft:
Re. the potential trade market for Leonard Fournette --as the #Jags are discussing dealing their RB w/ other teams as @AdamSchefter reported, I'm told this am not to expect the #Bucs to be a taker, at this time. The feeling is there's a lot of RB depth in the draft, per source.— ig: josinaanderson (@JosinaAnderson) April 20, 2020
It’s pretty easy to see why people would think of the Bucs as a fit for Fournette, as he is a talented runner who also possesses underrated pass-catching ability, as evidenced by his 76 receptions in 2019.
But it’s also easy to see why the team would rather look toward the draft for a new running back, as the 2017 first-round pick has a history with nagging injuries, plus he’s due around $4 million this year. This weekend’s draft is obviously full of guys who have less wear-and-tear on their bodies, and all of them will come at a lower cost.
So, as effective as Fournette has proven to be in his two healthier seasons (2017 and 2019), Jason Licht and his staff are better off looking for a complement to Ronald Jones II on day two of the draft. With a class that includes intriguing options such as Clyde Edwards-Helaire, D’Andre Swift, J.K. Dobbins, Jonathan Taylor, Cam Akers and Zack Moss (among others), the team is sure to find a strong prospect who will fit what they’re looking for.
Anderson’s “at this time” disclaimer could be notable, as it’s at least possible that the Bucs circle back around and engage in trade talks should they miss out on the running backs they like best this weekend. But that’s a bridge they’ll cross when—and if—they get to it.