Jaguars’ Leonard Fournette Listed as One of the Players Under Most Pressure Next Season

John Shipley

It is no secret that 2020 is a pivotal year for Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette. 

After a year in which he performed admirably within a struggling offense, all eyes are looking toward what his future with the team holds after this fall after the Jaguars opted to decline his fifth-year option. 

Fournette, the fourth overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, rebounded from a turbulent 2018 season and had arguably the best year of his career in 2019. After a sophomore season that saw Fournette have massive issues on and off the field, he ended up posting career-highs in rushing yards (1152), yards per carry average (4.3), receptions (76), and receiving yards (522 yards). The only area Fournette didn't take a big step forward in was touchdowns, scoring only three on the year.

But despite the relative success Fournette found in 2019 (even if his efficiency numbers were poor in comparison), the Jaguars still floated his name on the trade block before April's NFL Draft. Between that and the decision to decline his fifth-year option, making 2020 the final season he is under contract with the Jaguars, it is reasonable to wonder how the Jaguars view him as a long-term piece, leading to a large amount of pressure on him to perform. 

Fournette has so much pressure on him in terms of impressing both the Jaguars and each of the other 31 teams enough to invest in him after this year that he has been listed by as one of the nine players with the most pressure on him in 2020.

"Time and patience are running out when it comes to the fourth overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. And remember: The Jaguars drafted the running back over Christian McCaffrey -- as well as Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Whoops," Adam Schein wrote.

"I still think Fournette is talented, having shown enticing flashes over his first three NFL seasons. He did just finish seventh in the league in rushing, after all, with 1,152 yards. But does he really get it? Is he ready to lock in as a mature professional? Can he help the Jaguars win in 2020? What's the future hold after this season?

This isn't exactly an unfair assessment. Fournette is one of the highest-drafted running backs of the last decade but, so far, he has failed to live up to the expectations set for him by his draft slot. He was a huge piece of the Jaguars 2017 season, in which they went 10-6 and advanced to the AFC Championship, but overall he has not made the impact on Jacksonville's offense that other top running backs have. 

Fournette will assuredly be able to land with a team after 2020, but his performance this season will likely determine whether he gets the big-money contract he will likely be seeking or if he will have to take a more team-friendly deal. 

Luckily for Fournette, the Jaguars' offense has a more positive outlook in 2020 than it did entering last season thanks to upgrades at wide receiver, quarterback, offensive coordinator and tight end. Fournette will have to prove himself once and for all, but the situation is likely the best he has found himself in during his tenure with the Jaguars.