Leonard Fournette: Will the Jaguars address his contract situation?
When will the Jacksonville Jaguars finally make a decision regarding the future of running back Leonard Fournette with the organization?
At some point soon, the Jacksonville Jaguars front office will need to answer a question it has stated it would postpone until a later date. What is going to happen to running back Leonard Fournette and his future in North Florida?
Will the Jaguars offer him a contract extension or will the team pick up his fifth-year option? Also, is a potential trade candidate before the end of the 2020 NFL season?
It’s a complicated situation if you look at everything from those angles with the Jaguars holding many of the cards with this situation.
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The recent four-year, $64M contract extension for Christian McCaffrey has now set the bar for other running backs who were taken in the same draft class as the Carolina Panthers running back and those who followed him. As a benchmark, McCaffery, the eighth pick in the 2017 NFL draft has outperformed Fournette over the course of the last three seasons.
This is not a situation that helps Leonard Fournette, who does not figure to get the same kind of deal with the Jaguars, or any deal at all for the moment.
"“In 2017, the franchise tag for running backs was $12.12 million. It has declined every year since — it’s $10.278 million in 2020,” writes Dan Graziano of ESPN.com.“In contrast, the franchise tag for quarterbacks has gone up 25.7% since 2017. The tag for wide receivers has gone up 13.9% over that time. For cornerbacks, it’s up 15%.”"
Fournette isn’t the only one looking to cash in on a huge payday as Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook, and Joe Mixon could all be in line to add a few more numbers to their checks in the upcoming years.
The fourth pick in the 2017 season, we all know how Leonard Fournette’s career in Jacksonville has been a roller coaster ride that seemed to have smoothed out last season as he became the central figure of the Jacksonville Jaguars offense and was used a dual-threat out of the backfield. Fournette ran for 1,152 yards and caught 76 passes last season.
The Jaguars will once again count on him heavily this coming season as new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden figures to change the game plan to his west coast style from his days in Cincinnati and Washington.
"“Unlike fellow 2017 draftees Kamara, Cook, and Mixon, Fournette was a first-round pick. That means his team holds a fifth-year option on him and could lock him in place for 2021 without doing an extension. The Jaguars have until May 3 (as in, 17 days from now) to pick up Fournette’s 2021 option, which is likely to come in at just under $9 million,” Graziano explains.“If they do exercise it, it would be guaranteed only for injury until the start of the 2021 league year next March, at which time it would become fully guaranteed. (The new collective bargaining agreement changes this rule, making fifth-year options fully guaranteed at the time they’re exercised, but that rule applies only to players drafted in 2018 and since.)”"
That’s a lot of cash to layout for a player who has had injury concerns in the past and played 15 games in 2019. Still, the maturity Fournette showed last season was a help in the locker room and on the field during a 6-10 season in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars also have a situation with defensive end Yannick Ngakoue that is coming to an end. The disgruntled player has not signed his franchise tag offer of more than $17M per season. He has asked to be traded, however, nothing has happened yet to see that through.
When Jaguars general manager David Caldwell spoke to the local media on Thursday morning, he said he had nothing new to report on the situation.