NFL Rumors: Latest on Leonard Fournette, Gardner Minshew Trade Buzz and More

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2021

NFL Rumors: Latest on Leonard Fournette, Gardner Minshew Trade Buzz and More

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    As the NFL world inches closer to next month's draft, it's easy to forget that we're only two weeks into free agency. Players, important ones, are still being signed and the trade market won't close until well after the draft ends.

    Trade activity will likely pick up in the coming weeks, as teams look to improve their draft positioning and prepare for incoming roster pieces. Some players could be on the move sooner than later, though, including Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew.

    According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, Jacksonville has received "a few calls" from teams interested in the Washington State product.

    Here, we'll dig into the latest buzz surrounding Minshew, his former teammate Leonard Fournette and other notable free-agency storylines.

Buccaneers Still Talking to Leonard Fournette, Antonio Brown

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    Al Goldis/Associated Press

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers shouldn't be one of the teams interested in Minshew. Tom Brady has been remarkably durable throughout his career—his 2008 torn ACL aside—and is back for another run in 2021.

    The Buccaneers hope that running back Leonard Fournette and wideout Antonio Brown can be back for another go too, according to ESPN's Jenna Laine:

    "The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still talking to representatives for running back Leonard Fournette and wide receiver Antonio Brown, sources tell ESPN. They are the two big remaining Bucs free agents who have yet to re-sign for 2021, as defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is finalizing a one-year, $10 million deal to stay with Tampa, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter."

    Tampa has done a fantastic job of reassembling last year's Super Bowl squad. Brady signed an extension and Chris Godwin received the franchise tag, while Lavonte David, Rob Gronkowski, Shaquil Barrett and now Suh have all re-signed as free agents.

    Fournette and Brown are two of the most notable pieces of last year's team left on the market, and both could also be back.

    In Leonard's case, though, the Bucs could receive some heavy competition before completing a deal.

    "I know the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Fournette have been discussing a deal. There's been several other teams interested," Rapoport said on NFL Network. "I know publicly, the Patriots have been mentioned as a possible other team involved with Fournette, but we'll see if it ends up being something that Tampa Bay gets done."

49ers Could Make a Move for Minshew

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    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

    That teams are inquiring about Minshew is logical. The Jaguars are widely expected to use the No. 1 overall pick on a quarterback—likely either Clemson's Trevor Lawrence or BYU's Zach Wilson—and recently signed former San Francisco 49ers signal-caller C.J. Beathard.

    If Jacksonville plans to have Beathard back up their No. 1 pick, Minshew could be considered expendable.

    Interestingly, Beathard's former employer could be interested in acquiring Minshew. According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, San Francisco is, at the very least, likely to make some move at quarterback:

    "The 49ers are up to something at quarterback. They had extensive talks with Flacco, who hit it off with Kyle Shanahan during a visit last week before ultimately choosing Philly. They pushed for Dalton and also spoke with Trubisky's reps. Rumors persist that Jacksonville quarterback Gardner Minshew II could be in their plans via trade."

    This doesn't necessarily mean that the 49ers are ready to give up on Jimmy Garoppolo or that Minshew would get a chance to compete for a starting job. This could be a play for depth on the part of the 49ers. This too would be logical.

    While Garoppolo has been a serviceable starter and has shown flashes of immense talent, he's also missed 23 games over the past three seasons.

Kyle Rudolph to Have Surgery, Still Signs with Giants

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    While the Buccaneers are still working to get Fournette and Brown back into the fold and San Francisco could be looking to add Minshew, the New York Giants have finalized their deal with free-agent tight end Kyle Rudolph.

    On Tuesday, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported that things had hit a "snag" with the Giants concerned with Rudolph's medicals.

    "Sources say the team's medical staff is concerned with Rudolph's foot after his physical and believes he'll need surgery. The sides are discussing how to proceed. The two-year deal was agreed to but not yet signed," Garafolo tweeted.

    On Thursday, however, Garafolo reported that while Rudolph will need foot surgery, he has signed his contract with New York.

    Per Garafolo's sources, the medical issue that raised red flags in Rudolph's physical will be addressed, and the tight end should be ready for Week 1.

    If Rudolph is ready to go by the start of the regular season, he'll pair with Pro Bowler Evan Engram to give the Giants one of the better tight end duos in the conference.