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Leonard Fournette Released by Jaguars After Team Fails to Find Trade

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2020

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 23:  Leonard Fournette #27 of the Jacksonville Jaguars breaks a tackle from Andre Branch #50 of the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars surprisingly cut running back Leonard Fournette on Monday.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported the Jaguars had tried to trade him for months to no avail.

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Jaguars did all they could to trade RB Leonard Fournette in the spring and then again this summer. But as Jaguars’ HC Doug Marrone said today: "We couldn't get anything, a fifth, a sixth, anything. We couldn't get anything."

After his release, Fournette issued a thank you to Jaguars fans for his time in Jacksonville:

7⃣ Leonard Fournette @_fournette

Thank you, Jacksonville 🙏🏾 https://t.co/LcckBRao4k

The 25-year-old was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft and impressed in his rookie campaign, rushing for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns in 13 games. It appeared the Jaguars had found their offensive centerpiece for the next decade, leaning on him and a stout defense on the way to a postseason berth. 

The Jaguars had the New England Patriots on the ropes in the AFC Championship Game in the 2017 season, though they couldn't finish the job. From there, things fell apart.

The Jags went just 5-11 in 2018, and Fournette appeared in only eight games, rushing for 439 yards and five touchdowns. While injuries were an issue, he was also suspended for the team's Dec. 2 game against the Indianapolis Colts after getting into a fight against the Buffalo Bills the previous week.

He earned the ire of then-executive vice president Tom Coughlin in Week 17.

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Fournette didn't play in the game but didn't seem particularly interested in being on the sidelines, and the Jaguars official ripped both him and fellow running back T.J. Yeldon for their body language and disinterest.

"I am disappointed in the behavior today from T.J. Yeldon and Leonard Fournette," Coughlin told reporters. "They were disrespectful, selfish and their behavior was unbecoming that of a professional football player."

The LSU product's weight and conditioning were also reportedly an issue during the 2018 campaign, according to ESPN's Michael DiRocco: "There was mounting frustration inside the organization about the length of Fournette's rehab from the hamstring injury, and that time away apparently impacted his conditioning."

That December, Fournette also threatened a Tennessee Titans fan, though he later said the heckler taunted him with racial slurs.

Nonetheless, the transgressions passed the boiling point for the Jaguars, and the team voided the guarantees in his contract, claiming his suspension rendered them null. That set up a fight between Fournette, the NFLPA and the Jaguars, and it appeared the player didn't have a future in Jacksonville.

But Fournette had a solid year for the Jaguars in 2019 despite those past issues with the team, rushing for 1,152 yards and three scores. He also caught a career-high 76 passes for 522 yards, appearing in 15 games.

Fournette was a star at LSU and showed flashes of excellence in his rookie season and the 2019 campaign. It's hard to imagine he won't be one of the more sought-after free agents on the market following his release.

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