Nevertheless, the Jaguars have regressed from a team that nearly upset the Patriots in the AFC championship game to a team that won only 11 games combined in the two seasons that followed, leading to yet another rebuilding project for the downtrodden franchise.
After the roster move was announced Monday morning, Jaguars Coach Doug Marrone told reporters that “we couldn’t get anything” in terms of trade offers for Fournette. “A fifth, a sixth — anything.”
This summer, Fournette lobbied for the Jaguars to sign free agent quarterback Cam Newton even though the team already had anointed Gardner Minshew as its signal caller, leading some to think he was trying to undercut the young passer.
“When all of that was going around I kind of took a step back from football and had to realize it’s bigger than that, it’s a lot bigger than that,” Fournette said this month. “I talked to Gardner during the whole thing. They kind of made it a big deal when I asked for Cam. He understood where I was coming from. At the end of the day, I want to win, like, who doesn’t want to win? We came from a 2017 season with a team who was 10-6, we had talent all over the board, and then for the next couple of years, we went down the drain.”
Fournette also addressed reports that he was unhappy in Jacksonville.
“I just want to address a lot of things, too, especially the media came out and said, whoever said I was an angry guy,” he said. “I mean, for number one, would you be angry if you were losing week in and week out by 63 points? And that is one of my biggest problems. I do get upset at when we lose, and it takes me a while to get over it. I expect, just like anybody else, you put the work in and you want a ‘W.’ But sometimes, a lot of times last year, it didn’t go like that.
“I guess they kind of misconstrued that and thought I was around here just angry. And don’t get me wrong, I was upset from the losing we were doing, but that’s just the winner in me. That’s for any guy I feel like who plays this professional level of sports.”
He added: “I’m not no jerk, but when it comes to football and winning, I’m all in for that.”
On Sunday, the Jaguars traded defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to the Minnesota Vikings for a 2021 second-round pick and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2022 after the fifth-year pro publicly announced that he no longer wanted to play in Jacksonville. The Jaguars earlier had traded away quarterback Nick Foles, defensive back Jalen Ramsey and defensive end Calais Campbell.
Fournette’s departure means Ryquell Armstead and Chris Thompson will be the primary ballcarriers for the Jaguars, who open the season Sept. 13 against the Indianapolis Colts.
“At the end of the day, we feel … the skill sets of the guys that we have [can replace Fournette], and really that’s what led to the decision,” Marrone said. “And it’s been something that we’ve done it with every single position we’ve been looking at. We’ve done cutups, we’ve done tapes, we’ve gone back, we’ve looked at everything, what we’ve tried to get done. So it’s not just the running back position; it’s all positions.
“And I wanted to make sure we had the best look of, hey, what’s going on right now? That’s the best indication of what we’re going to be able to get when we start this season, and I just feel that was the best — is what’s best for our team.”
According to ESPN Stats & Info, only four NFL running backs — Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, Derek Henry and Joe Mixon — had more carries than Fournette’s 666 over the past three seasons. But Fournette had only 13 carries gain at least 20 yards, which ranked 22nd over that span.