Leonard Fournette and the Jacksonville Jaguars had an ugly year.
While the Jaguars fell from the grace of last season’s march to the AFC championship game to a last-place 5-11 finish in the AFC South, Fournette languished with injuries and managed just 439 rushing yards in his sophomore NFL effort.
Jaguars signal they’re fed up with Fournette
Fournette also served a suspension for fighting and earned the wrath of taskmaster general manager Tom Coughlin for “disrespectful” behavior on the sideline during the team’s meaningless season finale.
His offense was sulking on the bench with fellow running back T.J. Yeldon during the team’s 20-3 loss to the Houston Texans.
The team informed Fournette after the season that it was voiding the remaining guarantees on his four-year rookie deal that amount to $7.1 million, citing a clause that allowed them to do so if he missed time for reason other than football-related injury.
When the league suspended Fournette one game for his fight with Buffalo Bills defender Shaq Lawson during a November game, the Jaguars had their out.
Fournette reportedly fighting for his money
Fournette has now challenged the team’s attempt to void the guarantees in papers filed with the NFL, according to multiple reports.
Pro Football Talk speculates that Fournette is challenging on the grounds that the stipulation in his contract specifically lists several reasons as validation to void the guarantees including a felony conviction, PED suspension or voluntary retirement, among others.
What’s not listed, according to PFT, is suspension for on-field misconduct.
It will be up to an arbitrator to decide if Fournette has a case.
Jaguars deliver contradictory messages
Of course all of this would be moot if the Jaguars were winning and Fournette was in good standing. Suspension or no suspension, the Jaguars would not likely invoke the contract clause if Fournette was performing like they hoped he would when they selected him with the No. 4 pick in the 2017 draft.
Head coach Doug Marrone told reporters Wednesday that Fournette left a meeting this week in “really good place.” It’s not a statement that jibes with the team making clear signals that they’re trying to cut bait.
This is not the kind of conflict a team initiates with someone it wants to keep around.
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