Fri May 24 3:46pm ET
By MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer
Jacksonville Jaguars running backs coach Terry Robiskie, center, talks with running backs Ryquell Armstead (30) and Leonard Fournette (27) during an NFL football practice, Tuesday, May 21, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) carries the ball during an NFL football practice, Tuesday, May 21, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Leonard Fournette slipped off his sweaty cleats, signed each one and then handed them to a young fan after practice.
The youngster carefully walked away with Fournette's gold-colored shoes, making sure not to touch the drying ink. After all, the memorabilia could appreciate in value if the Jacksonville Jaguars running back gets his NFL career turned around.
Fournette spoke publicly for the first time in nearly six months Friday, finally addressing the worst season in his 24 years and everything that's happened since. He was injured, suspended and on the bench in crunch time. He was fined, criticized and admittedly not in ideal shape late in the year.
The Jaguars voided the remaining guarantees in his rookie contract following his one-game suspension for fighting, and personnel chief Tom Coughlin ripped him for being ''disrespectful'' and ''selfish'' during the season finale. Adding to the chaos, Fournette was arrested last month for driving with a suspended license.
''It's a new year,'' Fournette said following practice. ''We have a new team. We're focused and we have new players. It's a new year for us, so it's a new everything. It's a clean start for a lot of us guys. We're not focused on the past. The past's the past.
''Some things I did, whether it was offseason and I admitted to, yeah I was wrong. We moved on. We're in a good place right now.''
The Jaguars were in a tough spot without Fournette last season, unable to run the ball with any consistency after building the offense around the former LSU star and fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft.
He finished with 439 yards rushing and five touchdowns in eight games after running for 1,040 yards and nine scores as a rookie. He's missed 11 games in two seasons, including two because of suspensions.
''Everybody has a bad year, so I don't feel like I've got to prove myself to no one,'' Fournette said.
The team probably feels otherwise.
Jacksonville completely revamped its running backs room around Fournette, firing position coach Tyrone Wheatley and parting ways with backups T.J. Yeldon, Carlos Hyde and Corey Grant.
Coach Doug Marrone hired 64-year-old Terry Robiskie, who, like Fournette, was born and raised in New Orleans and attended LSU, as running backs coach. They also added veteran Alfred Blue (another LSU alum) to be Fournette's backup.
And even though they signed quarterback and former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles to upgrade one of the NFL's most anemic offenses, Fournette is still expected to be the centerpiece under new coordinator John DeFilippo.
''He's going to be a major reason for where our offense goes,'' DeFilippo said. ''I'm not going to sugarcoat that. Leonard Fournette needs to be a big part of this offense. The harder he works, which he is right now, I think that's not only going to be good for our offense, but good for our team.''
Fournette said he weighs 226 pounds, down 14 pounds from the end of last season.
He spent part of this offseason training in Dallas and then went to Wyoming to work with his college strength and conditioning coach in hopes of getting back to his ''foundation.''
''I kind of put a lot on myself this offseason, like getting my body right,'' Fournette said. ''Just mentally coming back ready to play football. No distractions. Leaving the outside stuff where it's at. I think that's one of the biggest things that us players. ... We face a lot of problems, you know what I mean?
''We have a lot of issues, and if we're not right with ourselves and then we come out on this field, we're not going to be right in the game.''
Getting Fournette back on track is one of Jacksonville's top priorities. Coaches believe he's got the talent to be one of the best backs in the league - a guy whose worn cleats would be a collector's item - but they have to keep him healthy, in shape, motivated and focused.
''Those young guys at that age, I always think they need a little more push, a little bit more guidance, a little bit more leadership,'' Robiskie said. ''Leonard is one of those guys. He's got the ambition. He's got the heart.
''I think he wants to win. I don't think he wants to win a game. I think he wants to be a part of something special. I think he wants to win a Super Bowl, and I think the year before last, that little taste that he had, I think that kind of helped push it a little bit more.''
July 5th: Tightend Preview
The Tennessee Titans and running back Derrick Henry agreed to a four-year deal worth $50 million on Wednesday, according to a source. Two years will basically be guaranteed. Henry capitalized after winning the NFL's rushing title in 2019 with 1,540 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on 303 carries. The bruising downhill runner is a perfect fit in Tennessee's run-first offense and will be a first-round pick as an RB1 in 2020 drafts, but he might be one of the more volatile high-end running backs because of his lack of involvement in the passing game with just 18 receptions in 2019 and 57 total in his four seasons with the Titans.
A source reported that everything is "all quiet" on the front for New England Patriots offensive guard Joe Thuney on Wednesday, the deadline for the two sides to work out a long-term contract extension. He is likely to play under the franchise tag this season, which will pay him $14.78 million. Thuney has been one of the best interior offensive lineman since he entered the league as the No. 78 overall pick in 2016. He's also been able to stay healthy and start every game for the Patriots. His presence on the offensive line will help New England as they transition to life after Tom Brady.
The Cleveland Browns are finalizing a five-year contract extension with star pass-rusher Myles Garrett worth $125 million, according to a league source. The deal will be worth a total of $144 million over seven years, which would make Garrett the highest-paid non-quarterback in the league. The 24-year-old is expected to sign the deal as early as Wednesday after passing a physical. Garrett was the No. 1 pick out of Texas A&M in 2017 and had 10 sacks in 10 games last year before he was suspended for the final six games for hitting Steelers QB Mason Rudolph with his own helmet on Nov. 14. He's absolutely worth targeting in IDP leagues, as he ranks fourth in sacks per game (0.82) since 2017.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have received multiple offers for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, including one involving a Pro Bowl player that doesn't fit their system, but it hasn't been enough value for them to deal a player of Ngakoue's caliber, according to sources. Teams have been told that the pass-rusher would play on the $17.788 million franchise tender, but the Jaguars are in no rush to trade him despite his wishes to play elsewhere. Ngakoue has been flexible about playing on the tag in another city, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made any long-term deals very challenging. If nothing is worked out, Ngakoue will play for the Jags under the tag in 2020. The 25-year-old has become one of the best young pass-rushers in the league and is definitely in play in IDP formats.
Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills was arrested on Tuesday night and charged with felony intimidating participant in a legal process, misdemeanor disorderly conduct and criminal trespass for peaceful protest outside of the home of Attorney General Daniel Cameron. The protest was demanding action for Breonna Taylor's case. This will become a situation to watch to see if Stills is disciplined at all by the NFL, but it seems unlikely. Stills has familiarity with Houston's offense, but it's tough to predict his current role with Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller V and Randall Cobb all in the picture. But he should see playing time with DeAndre Hopkins out of town. He just won't have much upside unless injuries ahead of him thrust him into a prominent starting role.
The Kansas City Chiefs signed defensive tackle Chris Jones to a four-year contract extension worth up to $85 million on Tuesday. It comes after the Chiefs signed superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes for 12 years and $503 million. If a long-term deal hadn't been reached between the Chiefs and Jones by Wednesday, July 15, Jones would've had to play the 2020 season on the franchise tag. Kansas City is now the only team in the NFL with three contract with at least $60 million in guarantees. Opposing QBs had a 32 QBR against the Chiefs when Jones was in the game and a 59 QBR when he wasn't. He's 26 years old and in his prime after recording 24.5 sacks in the last two seasons with the Chiefs.
Washington Football Team wide receiver Kelvin Harmon suffered a torn ACL while training on his own prior to camp. The former sixth-round pick, who had developed a bit of hype heading into the season after his 30-catch rookie season, will now be out for all of 2020 and will set his sights to 2021. He may be a sneaky throw-in target for any dynasty trades, but is of course off the radar in redraft formats.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is unlikely to sign a deal with the team ahead of the franchise tag deadline, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. Green was franchise tagged by Cincinnati earlier in the offseason but it is unlikely he plays on a new contract barring "a final-hour, surprise push." Green has technically not actually signed his franchise tag but he is fully expected to play on it this season. The veteran star wideout is primed for a big bounce-back this season, provided he can stay healthy. That, however, is a bit of a question as he has appeared in just nine of a possible 32 games over the past two seasons. If healthy, Green can be treated as an upside WR2 in fantasy drafts.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is not expected to agree to a long-term deal with the team before this afternoon's deadline. Prescott will play under the franchise tag this season, becoming the third quarterback to play under the tag (along with Kirk Cousins and Drew Brees). Prescott will earn $31.4 million this year before attempting negotiations again at a later date. Reports have stated that Prescott has turned down close to $100 million in guaranteed money. If he and the Cowboys can't agree to a deal next year, they'll have the option to tag him again for $37.69 million, but the two sides will likely try to work things out again before then.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is still without a new contract and will not report to the team until a deal is done. With Cook having issues remaining healthy over the years, the team's personnel are still at a crossroads regarding his future with the organization moving ahead. The 24-year-old had a breakout season in 2019 and finished with 1,135 yards on the ground and 13 rushing touchdowns. Cook's presence also contributed toward quarterback Kirk Cousins 69.1 completion percentage as he was featured heavily in the team's passing attack. Nonetheless, unless an agreement is made between the two sides, fantasy managers will be taking a risk by opting to use a first-round draft selection on him.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara was featured in a workout video posted on social media by Dr. Sharif Tabbah of Athletix Rehab and Recovery, a facility located in Miami, Florida. This isn't the first video that Kamara has been highlighted in over the last few months, and it's a good sign that he is back on track after battling ankle, knee, and back injuries throughout 2019. Even with his nagging ailments, the 24-year-old still had a decent season despite taking a step back in several statistical categories. Though his preseason ranking has him behind Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, and Derrick Henry (in most cases), he has a legitimate shot of exceeding expectations. The Saints also have one of the best offensive lines in the league, and with Drew Brees back under center, Kamara could make some noise on the fantasy end.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (foot) is "almost certain to start" the season on the PUP list according to Jimmy Kempski of Philly Voice. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said that Jeffery still does not have a set timetable for a return, and with time running out before training camp starts, Jeffery is almost a sure thing to be at best working off to the side. It remains to be seen if he will recover quickly enough to be ready at the start of the season, but if he does indeed land on the PUP list, he'll miss at least six games. Jeffery has been hyped up to have a big role this season, but if he misses that many games and the Eagles offense works well with DeSean Jackson and their rookies starting at wide receiver, Jeffery could find himself without much playing time even if healthy.
The Philadelphia Eagles re-signed offensive lineman Jason Peters to bolster their already formidable line. The nine-time Pro Bowler has been the team's left tackle since 2009, but will reportedly play guard under his new one-year contract. The Eagles seemed comfortable letting Peters walk as they have 2019 first-round pick, Andre Dillard, to protect Carson Wentz's blindside. However, right guard Brandon Brooks (Achilles) suffered a season-ending injury so Philadelphia turned to an old friend to fill the void on the right side. Peters will now play between fellow Pro-Bowlers Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce giving the Eagles arguably the best offensive line in the league which is good news for Wentz and second-year running back Miles Sanders.
Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry is unlikely to strike a long-term deal by the franchise tag deadline Wednesday, July 15, according to a source. He's scheduled to make $10.27 million and become a free agent next offseason.
Fantasy Spin: Henry is a stud RB1 in fantasy, but he suffers in PPR formats and may drop closer to a midrange RB1.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas is the top-ranked wideout on Sports Illustrated's Big Board for the upcoming campaign. Thomas finished 2019 miles ahead of the No. 2 receiver in all formats. While contributor Bill Enright doesn't foresee another record-breaking season for the 27-year-old, he expects him to lead the league once again in many statistical categories. Thomas will hopefully be catching passes from Drew Brees for an entire 16-game stretch in 2020, with the future hall of fame signal-caller also having the luxury of playing behind one of the most efficient offensive lines in the league.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley could be the league's leading rusher this season, according to Bleacher Report's Maurice Moton. Barkley is predicted to run for nearly 1,500 yards and could benefit immensely from the arrival of former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. The 23-year-old struggled in 2019 after dealing with a high-ankle sprain that cost him three games. He still managed to exceed 1,000 yards on the ground but took a step back in scoring production. If Barkley can remain healthy in 2020 and the offensive line holds up, the former Nittany Lion could be in store for his best campaign to date. Though Christian McCaffrey is the consensus No. 1 overall back in fantasy rankings, the case could be made for Barkley to be selected ahead of him.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and the team have no scheduled talks ahead of Wednesday's deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign contract extensions. Things can change with a quick phone call, but there has not been urgency to get a deal done. It has been reported the Cowboys offered Prescott a five-year deal, but Prescott's side would prefer a four-year deal with options. Prescott is scheduled to make $31.4 million under the tag this season, but may look elsewhere if he is allowed to test the market next winter. Prescott would be just the third quarterback to play a season under the franchise tag and the previous two- Drew Brees and Kirk Cousins- signed with different teams after their seasons. Prescott's dynasty value would be less certain without a guarantee of playing in Dallas's high-octane offense.
New York Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams is expected to play the 2020 season under the franchise tag. According to Ian Rapoport, the two sides are on the same page that Williams will play under the tag ahead of Wednesday's deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign extensions. The hope is he excels in a new system and becomes a big part of New York's future after they traded for the former first-rounder in the middle of last season. Williams is an excellent run defender, but doesn't provide much IDP value as he has just 17.5 career sacks since entering the league in 2015.
Free-agent DE Jadeveon Clowney (Seahawks) is not receiving interest from the Dallas Cowboys because of his expensive asking price, according to a source.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill said he wants to post 2,000 receiving yards this upcoming season.
Fantasy Spin: Hill finished the 2019 season with 1,479 receiving yards, so 2,000 yards is an unlikely goal to reach. He will still be part on one of the top offenses in the NFL and should be a No. 1 receiver in all fantasy leagues.