Coughlin chides Fournette as Jaguars void contract guarantees

Jaguars exec takes public swipe at star running back after final game

By MARK LONG, AP Sports Writer, Scott Johnson - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Running back Leonard Fournette's standing with the Jaguars reached a new level of unrest Sunday and raised speculation about his future with the franchise after top executive Tom Coughlin took a public swipe at Fournette's attitude during a 20-3 loss at Houston.

Fournette and fellow running back T.J. Yeldon spent most of the season finale on the bench, disengaged from teammates.

Coughlin ripped both players for being "disrespectful" and "selfish."

"Their behavior was unbecoming of a professional football player," Coughlin said in a statement.

Coach Doug Marrone confirmed Monday that the Jaguars have notified Fournette that his suspension late last month voided the remaining guarantees in his four-year rookie contract.

Fournette, a team captain, could challenge the decision. He is due to make $7.1 million in the final two years of what had been a fully guaranteed, four-year rookie deal worth $27.15 million.

If Fournette fails to successfully appeal the void, the Jaguars could cut him without incurring any future financial obligations. It also might make trading for him more attractive to other teams considering the reduced financial risk.

The fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft has missed 11 games in two seasons because of injuries and suspensions. Fournette ran for 439 yards and five touchdowns in eight games this season. He ran for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie.

But he also was suspended one game in 2017 for leaving early during the bye week and suspended a week without pay for leaving the bench, running across the field and instigating a fight with Buffalo defensive end Shaq Lawson on Nov. 25. Fournette lost nearly $100,000 in salary during the weeklong suspension. It could cost him considerably more if the Jaguars decided to cut him with no guaranteed money remaining.

Jacksonville also could give him a chance to change his ways. He's due to make $2.9 million in 2019.

Some players said Monday that they hope that's what the Jags do.

“I do believe he’s a good person at heart,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “(He) wants to be a good player. I mean, this is a unique situation, but I believe he’s going to continue to mature and be who we need him to be.”

Coughlin, coach Doug Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell all will return next season, and Marrone said fixing the team's culture will be a priority.

"We have a ways to go, and that starts with me," Marrone said. "When you sit here and ask about the culture and what it may be, maybe it's not, that falls on me. I did not do a good job there, period. That's one of the things I'm hard on myself, but I'm also honest with myself.

"At the end of the day, we can talk about this player or that player and the locker room and all of that. That's all on me. That's all on me."

Fournette was not available for comment at TIAA Bank Field on Monday.

Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.