There is possible tension building between Leonard Fournette and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Jacksonville has had trade talks with other teams regarding the 25-year-old running back ahead of next week’s 2020 NFL Draft, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The Jaguars have until May 4 to exercise a fifth-year option on Fournette, who rushed for a career-high 1,152 yards and was sixth in the NFL with 1,674 yards from scrimmage last season. He is expected to make $4.16 million this year in base salary. Jacksonville already has 12 picks in this year’s draft.
The Jaguars’ openness to dealing Fournette comes after a rocky past week between the two parties over the running back’s longing to bring Cam Newton to Jacksonville.
During an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” Thursday, Fournette made a pitch for Newton. The running back said he has known him for “a minute now” and felt it would be ideal for the Jaguars to sign the free-agent quarterback.
Fournette said he was not trying to speak ill of Gardner Minshew, the second-year quarterback who is likely to become the full-time starter now that the Jaguars have traded Nick Foles to the Chicago Bears.
“Like I told some people that talked to me, it’s no disrespect to Minshew. I’m just trying to get into the best position as a team [so] we can win,” Fournette said on ESPN’s “First Take.” That’s all that was about. Just friendly competition, because [it] brings out the best in people.”
Those comments came after Fournette deleted an Instagram post last month in which he wrote to Newton asking when they would be teaming up together in Jacksonville.
The remarks on ESPN led Jaguars coach Doug Marrone to say Minshew and Fournette might have to iron things out to ease any tension his words may have caused, not wanting it to spill over into the locker room. Minshew was drafted in the sixth round last year out of Washington State and had some good moments in his rookie campaign with 21 touchdowns and only six interceptions in 12 starts.
“I mean, we all talk about men are all men and everything, when you are in that locker room, you’ve got to say, ‘Hey listen, I said this because I really think this is best for the team,’ and if you can’t say this is what’s best for the team, then you’re going to have issues. … It’s not like a coach can get in between two players and fix something,” Marrone said on NBCSN’s Lunch Talk Live. ”You know, these things have to be fixed among each other at times and the coach can go in there and try to guide it through.”
That conversation could be a moot point if the Jaguars deal Fournette.
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