Jaguars' Leonard Fournette Looks Back on Offseason Cam Newton Request
Two of the Jacksonville Jaguars biggest offensive stars return to training camp having repaired on offseason rift between them…or at least, a supposed, reported rift. That's how Fournette sees the situation anyways.
Over the spring, Fournette made a very public call for the Jaguars to sign quarterback Cam Newton. The very nature of the request meant that the Jags' returning starter Gardner Minshew II likely saw it with the rest of the NFL world on first ESPN First Take and then Instagram. The latter post has since been deleted but can be seen in a screenshot below.
“I feel like, you know, Cam has the ... Cam went to the Super Bowl," Fournette said in April 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.”
Now back in training camp, preparing for the 2020 season, Fournette used his first media availability to ask reporters for a moment to explain more about the Cam request and perceived Minshew slight.
“When all that was going around, I kind of took a step back from football and I had to realize it’s bigger than that, it’s a lot bigger than that. I talked to Gardner [Minshew] during the whole thing that they made it a big deal when I asked for Cam [Newton] and he understood where I was coming from.”
Minshew was 6-6 as the Jaguars starter, the 2019 sixth round pick officially taking the job from former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. He’s a promising and enticing project, but a project nonetheless. Could he develop on an accelerated scale? Possibly. But Fournette admits he’s a competitor, and that means wanting to win now.
“At the end of the day, I want to win,” continued Fournette.
“Who doesn’t want to win? I came from a 2017 season with a team who was 10-6, we had talent level and then the next couple of years went down the drain.”
One could argue that for as talented as that 2017, AFC South Championship team was, it didn’t really have a franchise quarterback at the helm either. Blake Bortles is now backing up Jared Goff with the Los Angeles Rams. But in the same argument, one would have to wonder if having someone like Newton at the helm as opposed to Bortles would have made a difference.
The point is moot now. The Jaguars didn’t sign Cam Newton. The former NFL MVP instead went to the New England Patriots. And Fournette is still going to be pushing to replicate and surpass that 2017 success, no matter the passer.
Fournette didn’t provide details on his offseason conversation with Minshew other than to say the second year QB understood where he was coming from. The Jaguars did eventually sign a veteran passer, brining in Mike Glennon through free agency. They also drafted a rookie, Jake Luton in the sixth round. But it’s Minshew’s team. And Fournette has seen progress in his quarterback upon their return to the field.
“His hair got long,” Fournette joked, continuing, “He’s got a little more toned, most definitely he kind of defined his body out over the workouts he did in the summer so like I said we’ll see how everything comes together once the season comes.”
Whether or not Minshew and Fournette will combine to lead this offense—and subsequently this team—to greater success remains to be seen. But Leonard Fournette is ready to give it their best shot.
“I mean just do what I did last year. I don’t think I had a bad season last year – 1,700 total yards, whatever I had – and like I said, everything is going to take care of itself," Fournette said when asked about his mindset this season.
"Despite everything that happened and what’s going on, at the end of the day my job is to play football.”