While the Jaguars releasing Leonard Fournette wasn’t a surprise, the team might be on their way to a rough season.
The Jacksonville Jaguars posted on social media Monday morning they released running back Leonard Fournette.
We have waived RB Leonard Fournette.
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) August 31, 2020
Earlier in the offseason, Jacksonville had declined Fournette’s fifth-year option on his contract which showed the beginning of his end there. Adam Schefter reported the Jaguars have been trying to trade Fournette since the spring, but never got the deal they wanted. Jacksonville head coach Doug Marrone commented on the Fournette release saying, “We couldn’t get anything, a fifth, a sixth, anything. We couldn’t get anything.”
Fournette was a former first-round pick of the Jaguars back in 2017. He had a successful rookie season rushing for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns to help Jacksonville make the AFC championship game. Fournette missed eight games in 2018 due to a lingering hamstring injury and a one-game suspending for fighting. Last season saw him with a career-high in rushing yards (1,152), receptions (76), and receiving yards (522).
Why Did Jacksonville Move on From Leonard Fournette?
Fournette’s relationship with the organization has never been the best one. It has been reported he has had run-ins with the Jaguars’ management. His inconsistent play also made the team feel like they weren’t getting the best out of their first-round pick.
The team has been in full rebuild mode for the past two seasons with releasing or trading key pieces like Jalen Ramsey, Yannick Ngakoue, Calais Campbell, A.J. Bouye, and more. Their list of players that are gone goes on and on as they don’t have many to their 2017 team left. They have done everything they can to erase the team that former executive Tom Coughlin had built.
Jacksonville now goes into the season as one of the favorites to land the number one overall pick in next year’s draft. It’s exactly what the team wants as they need more young talent. They are saving money to start making some big moves in the next few years. Fans will have to be patient and hope this season doesn’t go as bad as they expect.
What Happens to Fournette Now?
It’s safe to assume some team is going to sign him and have him in the rotation. Fournette can start for a lot of NFL teams and have proven to be a solid starting running back in the league. While many teams are looking for speed backs with versatility, Fournette has proven to be a reliable pass catcher. While speed isn’t what he’s well known for, his power makes him tough to tackle.
One issue he’s going to face is what Devonta Freeman is struggling with now: salary. Fournette will most likely want to get paid top dollar since he’s already had two 1,000 yard seasons in three years. Not many teams are willing to pay a lot of money for a running back so he might be disappointed.
The Los Angeles Rams come in mind as a top candidate to grab him. While the salary cap has not been their friend, Fournette might be able to make a deal for smaller money and make him the starter. Cam Akers and Malcolm Brown are most likely the top backs on the Rams now which leaves a spot open for Fournette.
There will be a lot of teams reaching to Fournette, but he has to be open to taking a smaller deal as a “prove it” season for him. The talent is there for him, but consistency will make or break his 2020 campaign.