The Jacksonville Jaguars have notified running back Leonard Fournette that his suspension late last month voided the remaining guarantees in his four-year rookie contract, a source confirmed to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, after it was first reported by The Associated Press.
The AP’s source said the Jaguars notified Fournette of the action weeks ago. Fournette could challenge the decision.
The fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft was suspended without pay for the team’s Dec. 2 game against Indianapolis after leaving the bench and getting into a fight with Buffalo defensive end Shaq Lawson on Nov. 25. Fournette lost nearly $100,000 in salary during the suspension. It could cost him $7.1 million more if the Jaguars decided to cut him with no guaranteed money remaining.
Fournette’s standing with the Jaguars reached a new level of unrest Sunday in the season finale at Houston after he and fellow running back T.J. Yeldon spent most of the game on the bench, appearing disinterested in anything that was happening.
Executive vice president Tom Coughlin unloaded on the two after Sunday’s loss to Houston in an unsolicited statement.
“I am disappointed in the behavior today from T.J. Yeldon and Leonard Fournette,” Coughlin said. “They were disrespectful, selfish and their behavior was unbecoming that of a professional football player.”
Yeldon, whose contract expires in March and is unlikely to return to Jacksonville, didn’t play a snap against the Texans. Carlos Hyde and David Williams combined to carry the ball 12 times for 15 yards in the 20-3 loss.
The incident capped a tumultuous season for Fournette, who missed eight games because of injuries and disciplinary reasons. Fournette missed six full games and half of two others with a right hamstring injury in the first eight weeks of the season and was suspended without pay for the Dec. 2 game against Indianapolis.
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. He looks heavier than when he reported for training camp, when he said he was down to 223 pounds — his lowest weight since his sophomore season at LSU. During the Dec. 23 game against Miami, the CBS broadcast crew said Fournette, who reported at 240 pounds as a rookie in 2017, told them he was at 233 pounds.
It’s unusual for an NFL player to gain weight during the season, and Fournette was unable to do much, if any, conditioning during the time he was rehabbing his injured hamstring. Even so, it has been seven weeks since he returned to the lineup.
Fournette also was caught on video yelling at a fan in the stands during the team’s embarrassing loss to Tennessee on Dec. 6. The video clip released on TMZ.com shows Fournette yelling that he was going to “beat your ass” at an unknown fan before two people walk up and escort Fournette away.
Fournette, whom the Jaguars drafted fourth overall in 2017, has rushed for 439 yards and five touchdowns and averaged just 3.3 yards per carry this season.
Yeldon was the Jaguars’ main back while Fournette was injured and ran for 414 yards and one touchdown in 14 games this season. He also was the Jaguars’ second-leading receiver with 55 catches for 487 yards and four touchdowns.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.