The Jacksonville Jaguars and Leonard Fournette are entering an important season.
The Jaguars, likely, aren’t impressed with the production Fournette has given them in return for investing the fourth overall pick back in 2017 and Fournette is (again, likely) miffed at how he’s been treated, most notably the team attempting to recoup some of their guaranteed money.
ESPN has listed Fournette as one of 10 players entering a “make-or-break” year and they break down why here:
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Signed through: 2020
Why it’s a make-or-break year: After a 1,040-yard rookie season that helped the Jaguars to the AFC Championship Game, Fournette delivered a clunker of a 2018. He missed eight games (one due to suspension for throwing a punch in a game from which he was ejected), rushed for 439 yards and irritated Jaguars management to the point that they told him they were voiding the remaining guarantees on his contract. Next spring, the Jaguars will have to decide whether they’re picking up his 2021 option. A repeat of 2018 could make that a non-issue.
How the Jaguars could move on: As the No. 4 overall pick in 2017, Fournette’s contract was fully guaranteed at the time of signing, so he’s owed $2.933 million this year and $4.167 million in 2020. If the Jaguars did try to get out of paying him his 2020 salary, that surely would be a matter for an arbitrator and an NFLPA grievance. But even if they ended up having to pay it, $4.167 million wouldn’t necessarily deter Jacksonville from releasing Fournette if he ends up 2019 the way he did 2018.
It’s no secret that Fournette needs to have a big year — more games played, a better yards-per-carry average, a step up as a receiving threat, and developing into a true goal line back would be a great start — but I’d be surprised if Fournette is able to do that.
Until a player is good, they’re bad, and Fournette hasn’t shown he’s worth a first round pick or that he’ll be worth a second contract.
What do you think? Will Fournette show enough in 2019 to earn a second contract? Or will he taper off into mediocrity and end up on the Las Vegas Raiders? Let us know in the comments below!