There’s been plenty of speculation regarding two players in particular on the Jaguars — defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and running back Leonard Fournette. For two completely different situations, however, both have been in the news involving potential trades or social media headlines.
One the latest LockedOnJaguars podcast, hosted by Tony Wiggins (T-Wigg), Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell shared various opinions on the draft, the team moving forward, and also on both of the players’ situations with the team moving forward.
One thing was made clear, both players appear to be in the Jaguars’ plans for the foreseeable future, and that much was discussed by Caldwell during the team’s post draft press conference, simply in less clear detail.
Wiggins asked Caldwell about the on-going dispute between the team and Ngakoue first, noting that the player has always been a sound hardworking individual, someone any team would want to retain, for nearly any reason. Caldwell agreed with the sentiments and shared his perspective on what’s been going on.
“He’s always been one of my favorite players on the team,” said Caldwell. “He’s always come to work, lunch-pail guy, work hard, minds his own business, does his work, has a chip on his shoulder - but that’s a good thing -, and really plays like it.
“So, that’s the Yan(nick Ngakoue) that I know, and that you know and we’ve always talked about, about a guy that you wanted to be here for a long period of time.”
However, with the recent change in tone from the defensive end on social media, even going so far as to call out the team’s co-owner, Tony Khan, the Jaguars general manager says he’s seen some “uncharacteristic” things out of him over the past couple of weeks and really throughout the offseason, noting that he’s sure there’s a lot of frustration.
“Although, we’ve tried to put our best foot forward, it didn’t work out. And then we tried again in the offseason, and, - out of respect for Yan -, I don’t want to get too involved in the details.”
Caldwell indicated, as he has in the past, that the team wants to get some sort of deal done, and hopes that the two parties can “put that beside us”, and have Ngakoue playing for the team next season. The trio of Ngakoue, first-round pick K’Lavon Chaisson, and second-year player Josh Allen, Caldwell says, would be “fun to see” in the Jaguars’ nickel situation.
“...You got three guys there that are all really interchangeable, that can play out of a three-point stance, two-point stance. They can over centers, they can rush over guards. And that is something that we’ve thought about would be a great asset for our team in pass-rush situations, have those three guys, tremendous athletes that have a hunger to get to the quarterback.”
As for Fournette, the story line surrounding the young running back has been unclear. There have been recent reports stating that the Jaguars have tried hard to deal the franchise running back, however, Caldwell stated emphatically that there were no offers, and Fournette is expected to be apart of the team, however, it is his job to listen to teams and put the best foot forward to create the best team he can.
“Just with any player - and these things go on throughout the whole draft, you’d be surprised of some of the players people would call about, and you wouldn’t be surprised about others,” Caldwell told Wiggins. “Once there was rumors out there that there were some discussions about him at the combine, and stuff like that. It’s kinda taken on a life of it’s own. No offers were given to us on him.”
Fournette is coming off of his best season as a Jaguar, posting career-high marks in total yardage with 1,606 yards from scrimmage, however reports indicated that the had grown tired of some of the in-house happenings with the player. Although, last season Fournette presented himself as one of the more upstanding individuals within the team’s locker room.
“We expect Leonard to come in, he’s been doing the virtual offseason program the last two days, and he seems like he’s in a good spot. So we look forward to him coming in and competing and putting his best foot forward too.”
Make sure to listen to the full episode of the LockedOnJaguars Podcast by clicking here, Caldwell and Wiggins discuss all things Jaguars, including some of the criticism he has received.