JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette has filed with the NFL a challenge to the team's decision to void the guaranteed money in the final two years of his contract, a league source confirmed.
An arbitrator will rule at a later date whether the Jaguars are able to withhold the $7.1 million in guaranteed money ($2.93 million in 2019 and $4.17 million in 2020) as punishment for Fournette's NFL suspension. ProFootballTalk first reported the challenge.
The NFL suspended Fournette for one game without pay after he left the bench, ran across the field and fought Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Shaq Lawson during the Jaguars' 24-21 loss at Buffalo on Nov. 25. Fournette and Lawson also exchanged words as they were being escorted off the field.
Fournette apologized for his actions after the game and said he ran across the field because he saw Lawson shove running back Carlos Hyde and wanted to defend his teammate.
The Jaguars informed Fournette shortly after the suspension that they were voiding the remaining guaranteed money in his rookie contract because of a clause that allows them to do so if a player isn't able to play for reasons other than a football injury.
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said the team met with Fournette last week to discuss his disappointing 2018 season and his level of commitment, and to come up with a plan going forward. Marrone said he felt Fournette left the meeting in a "really good place, so that's encouraging, and I'm excited about that."
The Jaguars selected Fournette fourth overall in 2017, and he had a solid rookie season, rushing for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns to help the Jaguars win the AFC South and reach the AFC Championship Game. This past season was discouraging, though.
In addition to his one-game suspension, Fournette missed seven games because of injuries, admittedly let himself get out of shape, was caught on video yelling at a fan at Nissan Stadium in Tennessee (Fournette said a fan used a racial slur), and acted disinterested during the season finale while sitting on the bench with running back T.J. Yeldon. That prompted executive VP of football operations Tom Coughlin to release a statement in which he said Fournette and Yeldon were "disrespectful, selfish, and their behavior was unbecoming that of a professional football player."
Fournette ended his second season with 439 yards and five touchdowns rushing.