The Jaguars started the week by ending a relationship with one of its highest first-round picks in recent memory.
Jacksonville's waiving of Leonard Fournette wasn't entirely a surprise, considering the team had offered him in offseason trade talks during a period in which the franchise rapidly deconstructed the remainder of a roster that was one quarter from a Super Bowl berth. The move did, however, leave some reverberations with just how decisively it ended a once-promising era of football in Duval County.
Jaguars running backs coach Terry Robiskie attempted Tuesday to explain the team's decision to move on from the former fourth-overall pick, which he says was not a result of Fournette not producing.
"I don't think it had anything to do with not seeing from Leonard," Robiskie said. "I think it had everything to do with seeing from the other guys, you know what I mean? Just like we talked about a minute ago as far as my blessing that Chris Thompson is in the meeting room, I think it was the same phenomenal blessing to have Leonard on the practice field and have a bunch of young guys watching him out there on the field and showing us how we want to hit this one, how we want to run that or whatever that situation was.
"It was just a blessing to have him out there to demonstrate it and to show to the guys how we want it done. Because I've got a group of young guys that haven't played a lot of football. Now it's all about them, it's about me trying to pull their talent out of them and get them to play, get them to play well and get them to play up to par, especially to be able to do that as a unit, to try to get them to do it collectively."
If you're somewhat confused, you aren't alone. Logically, a team would want such an experienced presence to lead an otherwise inexperienced running backs room, but the Jaguars instead dumped Fournette with less than two weeks before the start of the season.
Those pointing to the cap space saved don't have much of an argument, seeing as Jacksonville currently has the second-most cap space in the NFL and is actually carrying $6 million in dead money from the divorce from Fournette. A group backing a youth movement might make more sense, especially as high-priced free agents of offseasons past have been packing up to leave Jacksonville since the start of 2020, but Fournette is only 25 years old himself.
He'd likely command a decent salary as a free agent after expiration of his rookie deal, but again, the Jaguars aren't exactly hurting for space, especially in 2021 (they're projected to have $83 million in space, per Over The Cap).
No, this instead feels like the final move to close the book on a swaggering, boisterous and ultimately short-lived era of Jaguars football. With Fournette (and the weekend trade of Yannick Ngakoue) goes Sacksonville, and in its place stand Chris Thompson and Devine Ozigbo.
A blessing, indeed.