Nothing will set off an athlete — or anyone, for that matter — like losing out on money that you thought was yours.
That’s the scenario in front of Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette after the team voided $7.1 million in guaranteed salary on his rookie contract — and he has now taken action to fight it.
Fournette has a base salary of over $2.9 million for the 2019 season and then over $4.1 million for the 2020 season.
Those figures were thought to be guaranteed, but a clause in Fournette’s contract states that those guarantees could be voided if the player “does not practice or play” for reasons other than a football-related injury.
Fournette was suspended for one game in the 2018 season for fighting with a Buffalo Bills player.
Here’s the altercation that resulted in the ejection of Leonard Fournette and Shaq Lawson pic.twitter.com/VmF7utJ6Sx
— FanDuel (@FanDuel) November 25, 2018
That suspension was the reason Fournette’s guaranteed money was voided. However, the contract clause doesn’t specifically list failure to play due to a suspension for on-field misconduct.
NBC Sports’ Mike Florio, citing a “league source,” reported Thursday that the running back has initiated a formal challenge to the Jags’ decision.
Florio said an arbitrator will decide if Fournette’s contract contains language allowing the Jags to void future guaranteed salary.
If the arbitrator rules in Fournette’s favor, that $7.1 million will stay as guaranteed money over the next two seasons.
If the arbitrator rules in the Jags’ favor, that money will be converted to nonguaranteed money, which means the team conceivably could cut him during the offseason and not owe him another dime.
The second-year pro had a disastrous sophomore season in which he had that suspension and missed multiple games due to injury. Fournette finished with 439 yards rushing, an awful 3.3 per carry, and five touchdowns.
He was blasted for not being in shape, being unprofessional and for having a bad attitude as the Jags went from the AFC championship game in 2017 to a 5-11 record in 2018.
But coach Doug Marrone says that Fournette is “in a really good place” after the two hashed things out following the regular season.
“I had a meeting with Leonard — I wanna say last week,” Marrone said Wednesday during a media availability at TIAA Bank Field to discuss the Jaguars’ 2019 coaching staff being finalized.
“We had a good meeting. I’m not going to speak for Leonard, but when he left that meeting. … I think he’s in a really good place. That’s encouraging, and I’m excited about that.”
Despite the team’s decision to void Fournette’s salary, it appears the Jags aren’t eager to move on from him as they’ve brought in a new running backs coach who should relate better to Fournette.
Terry Robiskie has over 35 years of NFL coaching experience and was hired by the team to help coach and mentor Fournette. Like Fournette, Robiskie is a native of New Orleans who went to LSU. He joins the Jags after spending last season with the Bills.
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