As signs continue to point towards Chris Carson departing in free agency, the Seahawks have shifted their attention towards finding his replacement.
According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, Seattle has made a substantial offer to veteran running back Leonard Fournette, hoping to "poach" him away from the defending Super Bowl champions. Along with weighing an offer to stay in Tampa Bay, the former top-five pick out of LSU also has garnered interest from New England.
Fournette, 26, eclipsed 1,000 yards and scored 10 combined touchdowns as a rookie while helping the Jaguars reach the AFC Championship game. But injuries limited him to just eight games the following season and though he rebounded with 1,152 rushing yards in 2019, he received multiple suspensions and earned a reputation as a locker room cancer. Consequently, the franchise opted not to pick up his fifth-year option and wound up releasing him last August after failing to find a trade partner.
One week after being released, Fournette found a new home with the Buccaneers, signing a one-year contract worth up to $3 million. Battling for carries behind starter Ronald Jones for most of the year, he only generated 367 rushing yards on 97 carries in 13 games, but he did score six touchdowns while being heavily utilized in short-yardage situations and added 36 receptions out of the backfield.
With Jones nursing injuries late in the season, Fournette came to life for Tampa Bay in the playoffs. Starting all four games of the team's title run, he rushed for 300 yards and scored four combined touchdowns, including breaking loose for a 27-yard score to extend the Buccaneers lead to 28-9 over the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.
Previously ranked by ESPN as the nation's top recruit in 2014, Fournette's talent has never been questioned. But maturity issues coupled with injuries prevented him from meeting lofty expectations in Jacksonville and made the decision to select him fourth overall a regrettable one in hindsight.
Still, the bruising 228-pound Fournette excels at running between the tackles and has consistently ranked among the NFL's best at forcing missed tackles. Per Pro Football Focus, he ranked seventh in the NFL in elusive rating in 2019, which takes a quantified approach at how difficult a running back is to bring down independent of blocking. Last season, he did not fare as well in this metric, ranking 48th out of 63 qualified backs, but he did have a limited sample size with under 100 carries.
Known for his bruising running style and elite size/speed combination at the position, Fournette also offers more versatility in his game than advertised. Though he won't be running routes out of the slot or moving around the formation and has had his share of issues in pass protection, he has shown consistently reliable hands catching 170 passes for 1,242 yards in four NFL seasons.
After rectifying his career and playing a critical role in the Buccaneers push for a Lombardi Trophy, Fournette would be an intriguing fit in the Seahawks' offense at the right price point. If signed, he would compete for a starting role against former first-round pick Rashaad Penny and recently re-signed veteran Alex Collins next summer.