Leonard Fournette

Jaguars Plan To Keep Leonard Fournette

Dave Caldwell admitted to discussing Leonard Fournette in trades during the draft. But the eighth-year Jaguars GM expects Fournette to be back with the Jags this season.

There were just some minor discussions with that but nothing substantial throughout the draft or prior to the draft,” Caldwell said during an appearance on the #PFTPM podcast (via Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith). “I think the mindset is that we’re going to go forward with Leonard on the team. I had a good talk with him on Friday. I know (Doug) Marrone has had some discussion with him. He seems to be in great shape and mental frame of mind, and we feel that he’ll have a great season this year.”

The Jaguars are believed to have begun shopping Fournette well before the draft, but strong interest did not emerge. The Jags discussed deals with the Dolphins and Bucs during the draft. Both teams went in different directions, with Miami trading for Matt Breida and Tampa Bay drafting Vanderbilt’s Ke’Shawn Vaughn in Round 3.

Fournette is set to make $4.1MM in fully guaranteed base salary this season. His contract contains no offset language. The Jags declined the former No. 4 overall pick’s fifth-year option. Although Fournette totaled a career-high 1,674 yards from scrimmage last season, the Jaguars hired a new OC in Jay Gruden.

Jacksonville signed former Gruden passing-down back Chris Thompson but has little depth behind Fournette. The team has 2019 fifth-rounder Ryquell Armstead, who averaged just 3.1 yards per carry as a rookie, and UDFA rookies behind its three-year starter.

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Jaguars To Decline Leonard Fournette’s Fifth-Year Option

Despite Leonard Fournette‘s two 1,000-yard seasons, the Jaguars will not pick up his fifth-year option, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

This is not a major surprise when considering the team shopped its three-year running back starter in trades. The Jags discussed Fournette deals with at least two teams — the Buccaneers and Dolphins — and began shopping him over a month ago.

Fournette’s option would cost the Jags north of $8MM. He is set to earn $4.16MM in 2020, what is now the final year of his rookie contract. Because Fournette was chosen in the top 10 three years ago, his option price comes in $3MM higher than it would have if he were a non-top-10 running back.

Thus far, the Jags have received tepid trade interest in Fournette. The former LSU running back has enjoyed an up-and-down tenure in Jacksonville. He has two 1,000-yard seasons but also missed eight games in 2018 — a year in which he averaged just 54.9 yards per game — and due to injury and a suspension. Fournette is, however, coming off his best season. He recorded 1,674 yards from scrimmage — 522 of which coming through the air.

Fournette was the first running back chosen in 2017. The Jags used their top pick in that draft on him, despite Blake Bortles coming off a down season and both Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes on the board. Now, it’s uncertain if Fournette will play another down in Jacksonville. The Jags did not draft a running back but did sign ex-Redskins passing-down back Chris Thompson on Friday. Thompson, 2019 fifth-rounder Ryquell Armstead (3.1 yards per carry as a rookie) and a host of UDFAs comprise Jacksonville’s running back depth chart beyond Fournette.

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Jags, Bucs Discussed Leonard Fournette Trade

The Jaguars, who have been trying to trade RB Leonard Fournette, contacted the Bucs about a potential deal, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Tampa Bay, however, added a running back via the draft when it selected Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the third round on Friday night. The Bucs also picked up Raymond Calais in the seventh round.

Fournette would have made some sense in Tampa Bay, as the club was said to be seeking a pass-catching back to complement Ronald Jones, and Fournette did haul in 76 passes for 522 yards in 2019. But the Bucs opted to go with younger (and cheaper) options in Vaughn and Calais.

The Jags, meanwhile, did not add an RB of their own with any of their 12 picks, so Fournette remains on the club as the undisputed RB1. He was drawing tepid interest on the trade market, and it remains to be seen if the team will continue seeking a trade now that the draft is over.

The LSU product is set to earn $4MM+ in 2020 with a fifth-year option for 2021, priced at more than $10MM. The Jaguars have until early May to exercise that option, which is guaranteed for injury only since Fournette was selected in the 2017 draft.

Jacksonville also discussed a deal with the Dolphins, but Miami acquired Matt Breida from the 49ers for this year’s No. 153 overall pick.

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49ers Trade Matt Breida To Dolphins

The 49ers are shaking up their backfield and sending a member of their surplus to south Florida, dealing Matt Breida to the Dolphins for the No. 153 overall pick, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Miami did not previously address its backfield need but made multiple overtures to teams dangling veterans. The Dolphins discussed a Leonard Fournette deal with the Jaguars, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com notes (on Twitter). Those talks occurred in March, however, and did not appear to lead to a serious change Fournette would change Florida cities.

With Jerick McKinnon still in the picture for the 49ers and three other backs in that mix as well, the defending NFC champions were a candidate to make a deal. Breida is entering a contract year and was mentioned as a possible trade chip earlier this offseason. While he was the odd man out for carries in Super Bowl LIV, Breida has displayed intriguing skills during his three-year 49ers run and looks to have a much clearer path to carries in Miami than he did in San Francisco.

The speedy ex-UDFA surpassed 600 rushing yards in each of the past two seasons, filling in for McKinnon in 2018 and being part of a productive timeshare with Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert last season. Breida eclipsed 5.0 yards per carry in each of the past two years. The 49ers still have Coleman, Mostert, McKinnon and Jeff Wilson under contract. They turned to Mostert, a career special-teamer, last season and appear prepared to give him more work.

Miami traded Kenyan Drake to Arizona before last year’s trade deadline and cut Mark Walton after yet another arrest. Breida will join free agent addition Jordan Howard in the Dolphins’ new-look backfield.

Fournette remains in Jacksonville, though his place there is certainly less certain than it was exiting last season. The Jags have engaged in Fournette trade talks for over a month but have not found trade talks to be particularly enticing. Fournette has one season left on his contract, but the Jaguars have another week and change to decide on his fifth-year option.

With their No. 153 pick, the 49ers took West Virginia offensive lineman Colton McKivitz.

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Weak Offers For Jaguars’ Leonard Fournette

The Jaguars haven’t found any viable deals for Leonard Fournette, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Schefter hears they’ve actually been shopping the running back for over a month, which indicates that he’s not in their plans for this year. Ultimately, they may have to settle for less than they anticipated if they really want to move on from him.

[RELATED: Jaguars Talking Fournette Trade]

Fournette clashed with Tom Coughlin and struggled to stay healthy in his early seasons, but he turned in a solid 2019. The former No. 4 overall pick ran for a career-high 1,152 rushing yards with an average of 4.3 yards per carry, a big step up from his 3.3 average in an injury-shortened 2018. Still, the Jaguars aren’t sold on him.

The LSU product is set to earn $4MM+ in 2020 with a fifth-year option for 2021, priced at more than $10MM. The Jaguars have until early May to exercise that option and, clearly, they don’t think Fournette is worth the gamble. Meanwhile, Fournette has been less than thrilled with the Jaguars’ overhaul this offseason.

Calais Campbell, they got rid of my dawg,″ Fournette said on social media after the veteran defensive end was shipped to the Ravens (via John Reid of the Florida Times-Union) . “I’m hurt, first those are my dawgs. ‘Don King’ Jalen Ramsey. And my dawg, Yan [Yannick Ngakoue]. Come on now…They’re just killing me right now. I’m just so hurt, it feels like my girl has broken up with me. She left to go with somebody else.″

Teams like the Buccaneers, Dolphins, Lions, Colts, and Bills would make varying degrees of sense for Fournette, but it’s not clear if they’ve been in contact with the Jags. Whichever clubs have expressed interest in Fournette, apparently, aren’t offering a whole lot.

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Jaguars Discussing Leonard Fournette Trade

The Jaguars have engaged in trade discussions involving Leonard Fournette, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.Fournette has one season remaining on his rookie contract, though that deal can run through 2021 via the fifth-year option. 

The Jaguars have already traded corners Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye over the last year, but they might not be done with their overhaul. Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue has also requested a trade, so the Jaguars’ roster to open the 2020 campaign could be drastically different from their ’19 version.

Fournette is coming off of his best season to date. The former No. 4 overall pick set new career highs with 1,152 rushing yards and an average of 4.3 yards per tote. It was a solid answer to critics who wondered if he’d ever realize his potential. In the previous year, Fournette limped his way a 3.3 yards per carry average in eight games.

The 25-year-old could fetch some nice draft capital in return, though the Jaguars already have an impressive stockpile. With 12 selections as of this writing, the Jaguars are tied with the Patriots and Vikings for the second-highest total of picks in the league. Only the Dolphins, with 14 picks, have more.

There’s talent in this year’s running back class – headlined Georgia product D’Andre Swift – but none of this year’s incoming RBs are slam dunks for the first round. Teams like the Buccaneers, Falcons, and Bills could theoretically consider Fournette, allowing them to focus on other areas of need in the early stages. The Chiefs are another team with RBs on the radar, but they’re already pressed for cap room and Fournette’s $4.17MM deal wouldn’t fit.

Jaguars Fire Executive VP Tom Coughlin

The major changes in Jacksonville are starting. The Jaguars fired executive vice president Tom Coughlin on Wednesday night, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). The team has announced the move.

Coughlin, 73, was in his third season with the franchise. This marked the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach’s second stint in Jacksonville. He was the Jags’ first head coach, serving in that role from 1995-2002.

This move comes, obviously, as the Jaguars are wrapping up a second consecutive disappointing season. It also follows Monday’s news of an arbitrator ruling against the Jaguars and the NFLPA indicating in a statement that 25% of player grievances over the past two years have been against the Jags. In the statement, which centered around the Coughlin-led organization levying offseason fines, the union urged players to avoid signing with the Jaguars as free agents.

Owner Shad Khan said in a statement he determined earlier this season he would fire Coughlin at year’s end but changed his mind after recent days. It would appear the grievance ruling accelerated this timetable. Khan added that GM Dave Caldwell and HC Doug Marrone will report directly to him for the time being.

I determined earlier this fall that making this move at the conclusion of the 2019 season would be in everyone’s best interests but, in recent days, I reconsidered and decided to make this change immediately,” Khan said. “I thank Tom for all his efforts, not only over the past three years but for all he did from our very first season, 25 years ago, to put the Jacksonville Jaguars on the map.”

Khan hired Coughlin in January 2017, stripping some of Caldwell’s powers to bring the longtime Giants HC into the fold. After Caldwell’s first four years as GM did not produce any winning seasons, the Coughlin-Caldwell tandem installed Marrone as the team’s full-time HC. The Jaguars went 10-6 and came as close to reaching a Super Bowl as they had in their 25-year history, losing a lead late in the 2017 AFC championship game.

On the field, the Jaguars have gone 10-20 since. Off the field, matters have been worse. Players were fined hundreds of thousands of dollars during offseasons, with Dante Fowler and Leonard Fournette confirming they filed grievances against Coughlin. The old-school leader also was the driving force behind Jalen Ramsey‘s decision to request a trade earlier this season, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes players had become frustrated by Coughlin’s mere presence in the building (video link). While the disciplinarian adapted in New York, winning over the Giants and guiding them to two Super Bowls, Coughlin’s methods did not go over well with a younger crop of players in Jacksonville.

Marrone looks like a Black Monday candidate, and although Caldwell has managed to avoid ouster rumors, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes (via Twitter) Jags coaches and scouts have inquired about other jobs for weeks. Quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich landed another CFL head coaching job last week. Caldwell made the Blake Bortles draft pick in 2014 and, along with Coughlin, authorized a 2018 extension for the embattled quarterback. The Jaguars, who selected Fournette over Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes in Coughlin’s first draft, took a $16.5MM dead-money hit to cut Bortles this year. Neither Marrone nor Caldwell, however, are locks to be fired, Rapoport adds.

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Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette Arrested

Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette was arrested on Thursday. Fournette was pulled over for speeding and later cuffed for driving on a suspended license, as Justin Barney of News 4 writes.

[RELATED: Jaguars Tried To Acquire Robert Griffin III?]

The Jacksonville Jaguars are aware of the situation involving running back Leonard Fournette and are continuing to gather more information,” the Jags said in a statement. “No further comment will be provided at this time.”

Fournette topped 1,000 rushing yards during his rookie campaign in 2017, but still failed to manage four yards per carry. Last season, he was set back by injuries. In total, he appeared in only eight games in 2018, rushing for 439 yards and five touchdowns. On an efficiency basis, Fournette ranked just 32nd among running backs in Football Outsiders‘ DVOA and 26th in success rate.

It’s yet another roadblock for the Jaguars and their starting running back. Last year, the Jaguars moved to void Fournette’s guarantees after a brawl with the Bills resulted in a one-game suspension. Then, in Week 17, Fournette irked team brass by sitting on the bench instead of standing on the sideline.

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Jaguars’ Leonard Fournette Challenges Voiding Of Guarantees

The Jaguars want to “move forward” with Leonard Fournette, but the running back wants to discuss some matters of business first. The former No. 4 overall pick wants the guarantees on his contract to be reinstated, according to Mike Florio of PFT

The entirety of Fournette’s contract was guaranteed until the Jaguars used Fournette’s late-season ban as reason to void the remaining guarantees on his rookie deal. Fournette’s team believes that the language in his contract does not allow the Jaguars to 86 his guarantees over a one-game ban for on-the-field conduct.

Fournette topped 1,000 rushing yards during his rookie campaign in 2017, but still failed to manage four yards per carry. Last season, he was set back by injuries. In total, he appeared in only eight games in 2018, rushing for 439 yards and five touchdowns. On an efficiency basis, Fournette ranked just 32nd among running backs in Football Outsiders‘ DVOA and 26th in success rate.

If the Jaguars truly want to start fresh with Fournette, it might make sense for them to cave on this dispute.

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Jaguars Will “Move Forward” With RB Leonard Fournette

The Jaguars intend to “move forward” with running back Leonard Fournette after he met with executive Tom Coughlin and the rest of Jacksonville’s decision-makers in order to “clear the air,” according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

To say Fournette had a tumultuous end to 2018 would be an understatement. First, he was suspended one game by the NFL after taking a swing at Bills defender Shaq Lawson. Next, Coughlin ripped Fournette and fellow running back T.J. Yeldon — calling them “selfish” and “disrespectful” — after they sat on the bench instead of on the sidelines during Week 17. Finally, the Jaguars used Fournette’s ban as reason to void the remaining guarantees on his rookie deal.

As a former No. 4 overall pick, the entirety of Fournette’s contract had been guaranteed. It’s still not evident if the Jaguars would have gotten away with voiding Fournette’s guarantees without facing a grievance from the NFLPA, but that no longer appears to be an issue if Jacksonville plans on retaining the 23-year-old back.

Fournette topped 1,000 rushing yards (but still failed to manage four yards per carry) during his rookie campaign in 2017, but he was hampered by injuries last season. In total, he appeared in only eight games, rushing for 439 yards and five touchdowns. On an efficiency basis, Fournette ranked just 32nd among running backs in Football Outisders‘ DVOA and 26th in success rate.

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