Earlier today the Jacksonville Jaguars waived running back Leonard Fournette. In the 2017 NFL Draft, the Jaguars selected Fournette with the fourth-overall pick, now, he is is slated to be on the open market.
“We couldn’t get anything (for Fournette), a fifth (round pick), a sixth (round pick), anything. We couldn’t get anything,” Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone told members of the media today when asked why the Jaguars didn’t trade the veteran running back.
While the transaction won’t become official until 4:00 p.m. ET., it doesn’t appear the team will get any compensation in terms of draft picks for Fournette.
In 2018, the team voided the remaining guarantees for the running back worth $4.17M following a suspension, meaning the team could release the running back without owing him anymore money.
According to the Associated Press’ Mark Long, if Fournette goes unclaimed he will need to file a grievance to receive the compensation.
If Fournette goes unclaimed on waivers, he would need to file a grievance to get paid by the Jaguars in 2020. Team voided his guarantees in 2018 and anticipates mediator/arbitrator would decide on that $4.17 million— Mark Long (@APMarkLong) August 31, 2020
Quite simply, the Jaguars and Fournette’s relationship was on thin ice for some time now. The team attempted to trade the running back prior to and during the draft without any takers, and now they’ll be moving on with the hope the remaining running backs on the roster will fit with what the team wants to get done during the season.
According to Marrone, this transaction had nothing to do with off-the-field issues Fournette may have had, instead he feels it was simply a move to make the team better, purely football.
“At the end of the day, I just felt that was the best decision for us as a team,” Marrone said. “I think it gives us the best opportunity with the skill sets that we have with the other players in there I just thought that that was the best for the team.”
The other players that are in there for the Jaguars are second-year running backs Devine Ozigbo and Ryquell Armstead along with seventh-year running back Chris Thompson, and undrafted free agent running backs James Robinson and Nathan Cotrrell. All five backs have been given plenty of repetitions, however, it’s been Fournette who’s received the bulk of the action.
Marrone isn’t concerned with first-team repetitions or repetitions in general, however, the running backs have had plenty during training camp, he says.
“I’m not concerned on that at all. I’ve watched the skill sets, I’ve watched the individual drills the individual competition drills that we’ve had,” said Marrone. “So, now it’s just a matter of, like I said, the timing of getting those guys ready to some of the things that we expect to see during the season and just get those reps for them now to increase that so they are better prepared to do a good job for us.”
The Jaguars will be losing nearly 1,600 yards of previous-year production by waiving Fournette, something that will be tough to make up, regardless of how good the players listed above have looked during training camp.
In three years, Fournette accumulated 2,631 yards on 666 carries (4.0 yards per carry) and 17 rushing touchdowns, with 134 receptions for 1,009 yards and two receiving touchdowns.
With Fournette now out of the picture and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue on his way to Minnesota following an overnight trade, the Jaguars appear at first glance to be a team gutting the roster, ready for a fresh start, however, that doesn’t mean the team is tanking and Marrone pushed back on the idea earlier today.
“If that’s the case - if that happens - I’m not going to be here, right?,” Marrone said. “I mean, at the end of the day if I don’t win enough games or, you know, do enough with this team I don’t I don’t foresee me still being employed. So, I’m doing everything I can to make sure that we have the best team to win football games. I mean, that’s as simple as I can be on it.”
This was a calculated move by the Jaguars, one that they view as a positive in the new offense ran by offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. However, Marrone did say this move was not one made weeks ago, it was all apart of the evaluation process of training camp.
“Let’s take names, take draft picks, take all that stuff off the jerseys, take it off the table,” Marrone said of his thought process entering training camp. “And then let’s put them on the field and see who the best players are and what’s going to be best for our team.
“That was my goal, and that’s my responsibility. And that’s what I feel I’m doing.”
Ultimately, the buck has been passed to the other running backs on the team’s roster, and Marrone is ready to go full steam ahead without the team’s former fourth-overall pick.
“I just feel like the skill set of the guys that we have being used the right way we’ll be able to give us more production and give us a better opportunity to win games. That’s exactly what I feel and it’s exactly what I’ve seen on tape.”