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Weighing the pros and cons of Buffalo Bills trading for Leonard Fournette

Should they or shouldn’t they?

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

When Adam Schefter reported on Saturday evening that the Jacksonville Jaguars were reportedly shopping running back Leonard Fournette, plenty of Buffalo Bills fans took notice. The Bills have a need at running back and Fournette is a famous player at the position with a great pedigree. Does he fit the Bills and does the move make sense?


Fournette is young and talented
Twice in his first three years, Fournette went over 1000 yards. In his second season, he only played in eight games and struggled to get to 55 yards per game. He averaged 4.3 yards per carry last year, though, and seems to be back from injury. He played a whopping 83% of Jacksonville's snaps in 2019.

The Bills need a physical runner
When the team was asked why T.J. Yeldon didn’t get more carries than Frank Gore, they said because Gore was more of a north-south runner. Fournette would also bring that to the table as a complement to Devin Singletary. With Fournette as the workhorse and Singletary as the hyper-effective change of pace, the Bills running attack would be well-rounded.

He’s been in the NFL
In this era of the coronavirus, players are going to have a very limited offseason to prepare for the 2020 season. With his experience, he’ll be able to adjust better than a rookie, though RB is typically a position that is easy to assimilate.

Fournette has one year left on his deal and no dead money. If it doesn’t work out, you can get rid of him very easily. If he stays one season and signs a new deal elsewhere in the offseason, Buffalo could be in line for a compensatory pick in 2022.


Opportunity cost
Trading for Fournette would cost an asset. If we’re talking about a late-round pick, where Buffalo has plenty of ammo, it’s not as bad as if you’re talking about a premium asset like pick 54. Still, is there a huge different between a fifth-round running back and Fournette? Why not just pick the RB then instead?

Salary cost
Fournette is set to make roughly $4.2 million in 2020. That’s pretty expensive for the running back position especially compared to a mid-to-late-round pick, whose entire four-year contract would be less than one season of the veteran.

Is he process?
Earlier this offseason, Fournette made waves when he openly campaigned for the Jaguars to sign Cam Newton, likely ruffling the feathers of his past and current QB Gardner Minshew. He’s been suspended, participated in fist fights (with the Bills no less), and former Jaguars VP of football Tom Coughlin called him out in a very public way in 2018.

The RB is set to become a free agent after the season. Is he part of a short-term, win-now window or part of the build? It’s unlikely Buffalo would pick up his fifth-year option in the next month.