Another week, another potential act of Jacksonville Jaguars locker room drama playing out in public.
Earlier this offseason, Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette posted a picture on Instagram which suggested he was campaigning for the Jaguars to pursue free agent quarterback Cam Newton, a former MVP and No. 1 overall pick. Then on ESPN's First Take this week, Fournette went into further detail when asked about the potential addition of Newton by the show's hosts.
"I feel like, you know, Cam has the ... Cam went to the Super Bowl," Fournette said on First Take. "He is a great guy, I have been knowing Cam for a minute now. Like I told some people that talked to me and I talked to, it is no disrespect to Minshew.
"I am just trying to be getting into the best position as a team as we can win. That is all that was about. Just a friendly competition because they bring out the best in people."
While Fournette's comments seem relatively benign, it didn't stop Mike Tirico from asking Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone about Fournette's public campaigning for a new quarterback during Marrone's appearance on Lunch Talk Live with Mike Tirico on NBCSN.
In a transcript provided by Pro Football Talk, Marrone appeared cognizant of Fournette's comments potentially causing issues between the team's star running back and quarterback Gardner Minshew II down the line.
“You know, with players, you’re always going to have friends [who say] like, ‘Hey, this guy should come, or that guy should come,’ and you try to talk to the players about talking about the team and doing what is best and keeping a single message, but then a lot of times you’re going to have to be able to communicate in that locker room, I mean that is the big thing with me,” Marrone said via Pro Football Talk.
“I mean, we all talk about men are all men and everything, when you are in that locker room, you’ve got to say, ‘Hey listen, I said this because I really think this is best for the team,’ and if you can’t say this is what’s best for the team, then you’re going to have issues. . . . It’s not like a coach can get in between two players and fix something."
"You know, these things have to be fixed among each other at times and the coach can go in there and try to guide it through," Marrone continued, via Pro Football Talk.
While there has yet to be any public indication of a public divide between Fournette and Minshew, it seems clear that there is at least something to clear up between the two. The duo figures to be major pieces to the Jaguars' 2020 campaign and Marrone will need to ensure each is on the same page entering the season instead of letting any bad feelings simmer.
Marrone was not stating there are any current issues between Fournette and Minshew, only that in instances like these there is always the possibility of a problem arising if things aren't communicated. '
On the surface, Fournette's comments on Newton do not appear to be a slight at Minshew and instead are centered around his desire to improve the Jaguars' roster heading into 2020, but this will be a storyline to monitor as the offseason progresses.
When asked about his relationship with Minshew on Twitter on Saturday, Fournette indicated they were still in good standing with one another.
Minshew started 12 games for the Jaguars in 2019 and became a starter initially due to an injury Nick Foles sustained in Week 1. A sixth-round rookie in 2019, Minshew ended up going 6-6 as a starter last season, completing 60.6% of his passes for 3,271 yards with 21 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also rushed 67 times for 344 yards, becoming a dual-threat for a stagnant Jaguars' offense.
In March, the Jaguars traded Foles to the Chicago Bears for a 2020 fourth-round pick, clearing the path for Minshew to start in 2020.