The Jaguars completed the final touches on dismantling their roster by announcing the release of running back Leonard Fournette early this morning. Fournette was in the final year of his $27.15 million contract he signed as a rookie and set to become a free agent at year’s end.
Originally Fournette’s contract was fully guaranteed but after multiple run ins with the Jaguars organization which included a suspension the Jaguars voided the guarantees. This is, as far as I know, being contested by Fournette in a grievance. The amount at stake here is $4,167,393.
Fournette only has three seasons of work so his contract will be subject to waivers. It is possible that the Jaguars announced this move so early today in the hopes that someone with a low priority on the waiver wire may offer a trade at the last minute. That would be ideal for Jacksonville because it would take the grievance out of their hands for the most part as the new team would take on Fournette’s contract.
If Fournette clears waivers expect the Jaguars to take on a dead money number of $4.471 million for his signing bonus proration and a $1.79 million charge for the grievance. That second charge will change based on the outcome of the grievance.
The Jaguars are one of the rare franchises in the NFL that do not include offsets on their rookie guarantees, so they would receive no money back if Fournette wins the grievance and signs elsewhere. Ideally they need him to be claimed or traded for to 100% protect themselves financially.
Fournette’s drafting by the club in 2017 was more or less the downfall of the Jagaurs even though it occurred in a season where the team wound up going 10-6 and showing the most promise it had shown in a decade. The teams decision to draft him meant they would bypass the QB position in a draft that included Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. Instead the Jaguars opted to chase the potential of failed starter Blake Bortles who they would extend a year later in a move that was more about salary cap space and lack of options than anything else.
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Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.