The Jaguars reportedly declined running back Leonard Fournette’s fifth-year option on Friday, continuing a miserable trend of missteps regarding the franchise’s first-round selections.
Jacksonville hasn’t exercised the fifth-year option for any of its first-round picks dating back to the 2011 NFL Draft, which was the first to include the option per the 2011 NFL collective bargaining agreement. That includes seven straight top-10 picks, and six in the top five.
Those picks are comprised of two quarterbacks, a receiver, offensive tackle, defensive end, cornerback and running back. Here’s what that looks like, per analyst Warren Sharp:
This is truly insane
• top-10 picks 7 straight yrs
• top-5 picks 6 straight yrs
and doing this:
#10 Blaine Gabbert❌
#5 Justin Blackmon❌
#2 Luke Joeckel❌
#3 Blake Bortles – CUT
#3 Dante Fowler❌
#5 Jalen Ramsey – TRADED
#4 Leonard Fournette❌ pic.twitter.com/TNNrdu3Wuc
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) May 2, 2020
So, yeah. Not great.
It’s worth noting that Ramsey’s talent was worth such a high pick; but injury issues in 2019 raised questions of his long-term future with the team, leading to a heated confrontation with coach Doug Marrone in Week 2. He was “overjoyed” to be traded from the team.
Regarding Fournette: The Jaguars are considering him a potential trade option despite him compiling 2,631 rushing yards and 1,009 receiving yards in three seasons — including an injury-shortened sophomore campaign. Otherwise, Fournette has two 1,000-yard rushing seasons, the latest of which saw him average 4.3 yards per carry and total 1,674 yards from scrimmage. Jacksonville signed running back Chris Thompson to a one-year deal on Friday as well.
Regardless of the Jaguars’ plan for Fournette — whether they let him finish his contract with the team or trade him away — it just shows how poorly the team has managed not only the NFL Draft, but also its players. The Jags seem to have broken that trend with the selection of Pro Bowl linebacker Josh Allen in 2019, but there’s still another player up — defensive tackle Taven Bryan — to determine if the team’s unenviable streak continues another year.
Considering how badly current Jags players want out of Jacksonville, that streak might continue another season before Allen can finally end it.