While the Jaguars are saying the right things about mending a relationship with star second year running back Leonard Fournette, actions speak louder than words.
And, it looks like there is trouble still brewing, and the Jaguars may actually be saying one thing publicly, while planning to do the exact opposite, soon.
On Thursday ProFootballTalk reported that Fournette is contesting the Jaguars decision to void the guaranteed money in the remaining two years of his rookie contract from 2017:
Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette, as expected, has filed a grievance challenging the voiding of his guaranteed money https://t.co/BS6mLSyLYu
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 17, 2019
Fournette has to formally contest the Jaguars decision through an arbitrator per the NFLPA collective bargaining agreement. The Jaguars voided $7 million remaining guaranteed, because they say: when Fournette got suspended by the NFL for his part in a November fight in the Bills game, that they have the right to do so.
As the PFT item states: they believe Fournette does have a good argument that the Jaguars cannot void the guarantees in the contract because of something that happened on the field during a game.
Fournette was ejected after he left the sidelines and fought with Buffalo Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson after a play was over during the third quarter of November’s 24 – 21 loss. He was suspended by the league the following Monday for one game.
Fournette and the Jaguars recently met and coach Doug Marrone publicly stated again, this week that he believes Fournette” is in a good place” with understanding that he has to be more dedicated and a better teammate.
Of course, the Jags took the same approach with volatile former first-round pick defensive end Dante Fowler. They did not pick up Fowler’s fifth year option on his rookie contract and publicly called him out in the media last year to be a better teammate and to work harder.
Fowler was eventually traded away to the L.A. Rams at the October deadline.
So, this may be a case that Jacksonville is looking to make a blockbuster move and trade Fournette for at least one, if not more premium draft picks, to another team that would take him on with a still very affordable 3rd and 4th year remaining on his rookie deal.
After rushing for over a 1,000 yards his rookie year, Fournette missed seven games primarily with a hamstring injury and the eighth for suspension in what was essentially a lost season for him. And, it finished 5-11 for his team.
Fournette, by the way turned 24 years old on Friday, too.
For now, we’re left to wonder, as they battle behind the scenes about his guaranteed money, as to what it all truly means for Fournette’s future in North Florida.
Jags WR Marqise Lee returns to practice
After losing veteran Alfred Blue in the first half of the 24–10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury, the Jaguars are looking for offensive depth. In some fortunate news, WR Marqise Lee is off of the PUP list and has begun practicing today, roughly one year after suffering from knee damage that sidelined him for the entire 2018 season.
Head coach Doug Marrone made the announcement before practice on Saturday.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 17, 2019
First Coast news reporter Ben Murphy got a video of Lee at practice receiving a pass from QB Nick Foles.
— Ben Murphy (@BenMurphyTV) August 17, 2019
Last year, Lee was injured in the first quarter of a preseason game against the Falcons. He was hit by reserve defensive back Damontae Kazee on this play after a reception.
— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) August 25, 2018
Lee suffered a torn ACL and went on injured reserve missing the entire season.
Lee became more prominent in Jacksonville’s pass offense in 2017 with 56 catches for 702 yards and three TDs. The Jags are surely going to rely on him this season which could mean he’ll see the field a bit in their third preseason game to get him readjusted to competitive game play.
However, they might not want to risk another potential injury before the season begins. We could see it going either way. We do know that he’ll be a great weapon for Nick Foles to utilize this season.
The return of Lee is coming off the heels of some other good news for the Jags announced earlier this week. Starting left tackle Cam Robinson was also removed from the PUP list on Monday after suffering a torn ACL in Week 2 last season. He has since made enough progress participate in some individual drills and should be ready, along with Lee, for their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In other injury-related news, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Leonard Fournette, backed up by Thomas Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.
Jaguars searching for RB depth after second preseason game
With preseason game number two in the books, it’s apparent the Jaguars have real issues with running back depth due to injury. This after veteran Alfred Blue left the first half of the 24 – 10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury and did not return.
Blue carried the ball four times for just five yards has Jacksonville offense once again sputtered behind a makeshift offensive line. Coach Doug Marrone was so concerned about that line situation and their ability to protect/block that starting quarterback Nick Foles and running back Leonard Fournette never saw the field for a single play during Thursday night.
That means that veteran at Thomas Rawls (above Thursday) was called upon to carry the ball a little more, and he did so, seven times for 19 yards including a long run of 11 playing in the first half.
Rawls is a 5th year veteran who had some modest success with the Seahawks, including rushing for 830 yards his rookie year in 2015 with a 5.6 yard per carry average. His numbers tapered off in 2016 – 17 with ankle and foot injuries, as he only played in 21 games in those two years. Rawls was later released and picked up by the Bengals, but injured again last season, and never carried the ball in Cincinnati.
Obviously, the Jaguars are wanting to implement Fournette, as the primary ball carrier, but they will need someone else to spell him on a series or two. Also, Fournette has had durability questions, as he missed parts or all of eight games last year with a hamstring injury.
The Jags were also hoping to bring along Temple rookie running back Ryquell Armstead, but after he carried eight times for 22 yards last week, he suffered a concussion in the preseason opening loss to the Ravens. Armstead hasn’t practiced since, and is still being evaluated with no further update Thursday.
Speaking of updates, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Fournette, backed up by Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.