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Jaguars decline 5th year option for Leonard Fournette’s contract

The Jaguars have Leonard Fournette under contract for one more, but no more as they have declined his fifth year option. We break down what it means.

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette breaks a tackle by Atlanta Falcons safety Ricardo Allen during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.  Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars are electing to not pick up the fifth year option on running back Leonard Fournette’s rookie contract, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. This comes following word a week prior to the draft that Jacksonville was shopping the veteran back.

The Jaguars spent the fourth overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft on Fournette. In three seasons, Fournette has been a workhorse back who has struggled to stay healthy. He played a career-high 15 games in 2019, rushing 265 times for 1,152 yards and three touchdowns. It was by far his most productive season as he added 76 receptions and 522 yards. His work in the passing game wasn’t as efficient as it could be, and he benefited from Gardner Minshew checking down plenty.

The Jaguars agreed to a contract with veteran running back Chris Thompson on Friday. He is not going to replace Fournette, but will get plenty of opportunities in the passing game. Fournette ranked 13th among standard running backs and seventh among PPR running backs last season. The addition of Thompson will likely cost him some targets in the passing game, and I suspect he’ll drop out of the top ten in PPR leagues, and maybe even the top 15.

The bigger question for Fournette’s usage is how much work second-year back Ryquell Armstead picks up after a rookie season in which he rushed 35 times for 108 yards. Fournette likely remains a top 20 back, but given the trade rumors, his ceiling could decrease further.