The Jaguars and Leonard Fournette are prepared to run it back.
That is, at least, according to Jacksonville GM Dave Caldwell, who revealed on Pro Football Talk’s PM Podcast that the team is “going to move forward” with Fournette in the backfield for the 2020 season — a reversal of the trade rumors that had suggested a certain split with the franchise’s 2017 fourth overall draft pick.
“There were just some minor discussions with that but nothing substantial throughout the draft or prior to the draft,” Caldwell said on the podcast. “I think the mindset is that we’re going to go forward with Leonard on the team. I had a good talk with him on Friday. I know Coach Marrone has had some discussion with him.
“He seems to be in great shape and mental frame of mind, and we feel that he’ll have a great season this year.”
The Jaguars declined Fournette’s fifth-year option, setting him up to be a free agent following the 2020 NFL season. The beleaguered running back is coming off a 15-game, 1,152-yard season but only reached paydirt three times, his lowest rushing TD total in his three seasons.
Fournette has been hurt, disciplined and reportedly shopped while in Jacksonville, so the sudden reset by the organization to keep him in a Jags uniform prior to the start of the season, surely, won’t be met with any kind of headlines or discourse this year. Especially considering the totally healthy relationship between Jacksonville and edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue.
Jacksonville has put itself in a difficult situation as a franchise, considering the team had visited the AFC championship game and came up a quarter short of advancing to the Super Bowl. Since then, the Jags have parted with some top-tier talent, including cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive lineman Calais Campbell. Fournette may be the next to go.
When Fournette is on the field, he’s been an effective player, accumulating 3,640 scrimmage yards in 36 regular season games with the Jaguars. The former No. 4 overall pick did miss eight games in 2018 and has dealt with nagging injuries throughout his career.
But now Jacksonville is hoping Fournette turns the page while the Jags look to turn a corner.