Leonard Fournette Is Forcing a Trade Without Forcing It

Leonard Fournette.
Leonard Fournette. / Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The en vogue trend in Jacksonville over the last 12 months has been for Jaguars players to take their displeasure with the organization public and try to force a trade. Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey utilized this approach to successfully get traded from the Jags to the Rams (netting a fat new contract in the process) and now Pro Bowl DE Yannick Ngakoue is trying to do the exact same thing.

Meanwhile, running back Leonard Fournette has taken a different path, keeping his dirty laundry unaired despite the fact that his actions seem to indicate he's unhappy with the direction the organization is headed. Yet that more subtle method could get Fournette exactly what he wants, which seems to be a trade.

Fournette is coming off a year where he rushed for a career-high 1,152 yards with an additional 522 yards receiving. He'll be paid $4.16 million this year in the fourth year of his rookie deal. The Jags have until May 4 to exercise a fifth-year option on Fournette, but they could ship him elsewhere before next weekend.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Jags are talking with teams about a trade for the 25-year-old ahead of this week's draft. This comes after Fournette went on First Take and said the Jags should sign free agent QB Cam Newton. That rubbed people within the Jags organization the wrong way because Gardner Minshew is expected to be their starting quarterback next season after a solid rookie campaign that included 21 touchdown passes and the popular Minshew-mania rally call.

Equally important to note as we consider Fournette's motives here is the fact this isn't the first time he openly pined for Newton and upset the Jags. In March, Fournette made an Instagram post asking Newton to team up with him in Jacksonville. He later deleted the post, but Jaguars coach Doug Marrone indicated Fournette would have to make up with Minshew to keep it from becoming a bigger issue.

Fournette has steadfastly maintained his support of the former MVP Newton is not a knock on Minshew and more about putting the best team out there, but his actions suggest there's an ulterior motive. If he knew the Jags were mad after his first foray into publicly campaigning for Newton, certainly he must have known they would be even more upset for him to go on national television and repeat the same request. Yet he did it anyway and now he's on the trade block because of it, though there has been speculation of him being a trade chip for the clearly-tanking Jags all offseason.

Ngakoue has been extremely vocal over the last month about his desire to get traded and get a new contract, but the Jags asking tag is reportedly too high for other teams to consider. Fournette hasn't said anything about wanting to be traded, but might be the next star headed out of Jacksonville because the trade price tag for running backs is much lower than pass rushers. Based on his actions, it seems like Fournette would be fine with that outcome.