Leonard Fournette signs rookie deal with Jaguars
Leonard Fournette is ready to rumble in Jacksonville.
The No. 4 overall pick signed his four-year contract with the Jaguars on Wednesday, the team announced.
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As with all first-round picks, the team owns an option for a fifth year. The deal is fully guaranteed and there is no offset language in the contract, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.
The bulldozing, 6-foot, 232-pound running back was a tackle-breaking machine during his run at LSU. Fournette immediately provides the Jags with a workhorse in the backfield that should help balance the Jags’ offense. Coach Doug Marrone said last weekend the team believes the rookie can make the Jags cheap jersey a more physical offense.
“Obviously when we made the pick we were thinking about [how] he can be someone like that,” Marrone said, via ESPN. “Obviously he’s shown that ability, but at the same sense, when you have the team, the one thing about a team is you have to earn that. So he’s going to have to go and show that he has to do that.”
While Marrone is sticking to coach-speak saying Fournette needs to “earn” the starting gig, we expect the rookie to be the workhorse out of the gate. He’ll leap T.J. Yeldon, Chris Ivory and Corey Grant in the rotation — possibly making Ivory expendable.
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The Giants released Cruz in February. The 30-year-old receiver met with the Carolina Panthers months ago but has garnered little interest until Thursday when Jones also reported Cruz wholesale jerseys will visit with the Bears next Monday.
An undrafted free agent in 2010, Cruz became a star under coach Tom Coughlin in New York. With Coughlin leading the revamp in Jacksonville, the connection makes sense from a personal perspective.
From an on-field standpoint, a Cruz-Jags marriage offers a more puzzling quandary. The Jaguars already own a talented receiving corps headlined by Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee and added fourth-round pick Dede Westbrook in the draft.
Perhaps Coughlin believes Cruz can bring an added veteran presence to a young group. Maybe Cruz can convince his former coach a return to a full-time slot role will unlock his production. Or perhaps the visit is just Coughlin doing a favor for a hard-working player who hasn’t been the same since suffering a disastrous injury under his watch. Heck, maybe the Jags just need a good salsa dance instructor.
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The bruising, 6-foot, 232-pound running back raised questions during the draft process about his ability to thrive in the shotgun, but an incredible frame and beastly presence on the field were too hard to pass up. Having spent lavishly in free agency this offseason on their defense, the addition of Fournette is a welcome one for a team that would like to keep their premiere corners and pass rushers off the field.
“You’ve got a game-changer,” Fournette told NFL Network’s Deion Sanders after the selection. “You’ve got the best running back in the draft.”
In yet another sign that the running back position has returned to prime time, Fournette becomes the second straight running back to go in the top five. Only four running backs in the last decade – Fournette, Trent Richardson, Darren McFadden and Ezekiel Elliott jersey – have been selected in the first five picks.
The selection obviously raises questions about the immediate future of Jacksonville’s backfield, which already includes Chris Ivory and T. J. Yeldon. The tandem last year formed the league’s 22nd best rushing offense and 29th most productive scoring backfield.
Over a three-year span at LSU, Fournette rushed 616 times for 3,830 yards and 40 touchdowns. He rushed for 22 alone in 2015.