Fournette definitely should take a year off in 2016


Look away, LSU fans. You’re not going to like what you see below. Because no college football fans want to see any of the guys playing for room, board, and snacks consider the possibility of paying for their own room, board, and snacks.

But with the NFL barring players from entering the draft for three years after high school graduation in order to force players to play for room, board, and snacks (which in turn keeps the proprietors of the NFL’s free farm system happy), a player who has maximized his draft value in two years or fewer should choose not to play until he can be paid to do so.

LSU running back Leonard Fournette already has shown that he’s ready. Don’t take it from me (as if you ever do). Take it from legendary scout and current NFL employee Gil Brandt.

He’s ready to play,” Brandt recently told the New York Times.

Fournette is ready to play in the NFL, but he can’t play in the NFL until 2017. Unless the rule changes before April (it won’t), Fournette can’t get in to the NFL before 2017. So if he’s ready to play in the NFL and if he has maxed out his draft value, why should he continue to assume the risk of injury while playing for compensation that doesn’t come close to matching Fournette’s value?

Eventually, someone is going to do it. After rushing for nearly 700 yards in three high-stakes games, Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott should have passed on playing in 2015. This year, Fournette definitely should skip 2016.

If not Fournette, at some point it will happen. And plenty of fans and media will lose their minds, calling the player selfish and stupid and not a person who truly loves football.

But why love football when football doesn’t properly love you back? By playing for LSU in 2016, Fournette risks becoming the next Marcus Lattimore. Even if Fournette comes through the experience healthy, he will have done nothing to enhance his value beyond what it already is.

Kids go to college to acquire marketable skills. Plenty of college football players are majoring in football, even though the placement rate is ridiculously low. For guys like Fournette, who has won the lottery after only two years, there’s no reason to play football for something close to free.

When NFL owners, coaches, and executives treat business situations like business situations, we applaud. When players do it, we scoff. Until that changes, more and more players who are ready to thrive in the NFL will feel compelled to continue to play for something far less than fair value.

66 responses to “Fournette definitely should take a year off in 2016

  1. Agreed. Adding to your points, backs are often measured in touches. So by adding another 200+ touches at LSU next year, he’s declining his own stock, even if he remains healthy.

  2. Not knowing the whole story (scholarships, etc) I would say this makes a certain kind of sense.

    If your ultimate goal is the NFL, then go play baseball or beer league volleyball and hit the gym for 2016 to stay limber then get paid and move on in 2017.

    I can get behind that.

  3. What kind of kid is he? If he would go to school for a year on his own dime and stay out of trouble, then sure, it’s a good idea. If he’s at risk of smoking weed, getting fat, and losing his edge being away from the athletic program, then it’s a bad idea. Only he and his family know the right call to make.

  4. This is actually hard to argue with. In Clowney’s case, I didn’t think he had proven himself, but in Fournette’s case, there is no doubt this kid is going to be a star.

  5. Couldnt agree more. Considering he can setup his family for a couple generations. He is a beast and should take a year to workout and study his major. It simply isnt worth the risk to play. He could start lining up endorsements and creating his own brand in 2016.

  6. A year out of football would severely damage his draft status. First, his football instincts would suffer from non-use. Second, his dedication to football would be questioned because it would show he is only in it for the money. Third, the risk of injury after a year off would multiply due to not being in “football” shape.

  7. Was anyone else appalled during the Syracuse game at the commentator who was suggesting running Fournette 30+ times a game for twelve games in a row? He said this just moments before Fournette came up limping after a carry.

    But of course an ESPN broadcaster doesn’t care about the longevity of the kid’s career as long as Fournette is making the network $$$ now.

  8. He should do whatever he would like. If he loves the game, and wants to keep training and playing the game, he should play. He has the talent to sit the year, if that’s what he chooses, but he shouldn’t feel pressure from anyone on what would be the best decision for him.

  9. The NCAA system has outgrown itself. The NFL should have systems similar to the NHL and MLB. Maybe draft out of high school, and the kids can choose to go to college for a free education, or they can go to the minors and make a modest living. You’re kidding yourself if you think most of these guys are “student-athletes.” I lived with football players in college, at a then 1-AA school, and I never saw these guys crack a book or sweat a final even once. They lifted, practiced, are, smoked weed, played video games, and chased girls. That was literally all their lives entailed, save for a couple studious types. Not saying that’s a smart thing to do, but most of these guys have no interest in getting an education, they’re trying to make it in football. So I say set up a minor league system in these smaller areas of the country where college ball flourishes. The NFL is the top 1% of NCAA players, right? So the minors would have the 98th and 97th percentile guys, which is logically a better product than the NCAA, talent-wise. Save those scholarships for smart kids who care and who need them. Unfortunately, there’s WAY too much “tradition” (read: money to be lost) for the good ole boy network of the NCAA to ever let that happen.

  10. If I’m a GM, I’d probably choose a Nick Chubb who likely dominates for 3 years over Fournette who dominates for 2 and took a year off to let his skills whither. Draft prospects are still learning, building their brand, getting better at their craft. If Fournette didn’t think that would happen at LSU, why’d he go there?

  11. Have you considered, just for one sane moment, the possibility that he enjoys playing football and being around his teammates, friends and coaches– for the sake of playing the game itself and trying to help his team get to the CFP?

  12. TheDPR makes a great point about youth and idleness. I think the injury issue is a red herring. Todd Gurley got drafted high. The number of people who have been badly injured and seriously hurt their pro prospects is small, and you could also get hurt playing basketball while sitting out the year. The only issue here that makes sense to me is tyschwab’s about wear and tear. Maybe that gets canceled out by gaining experience, I don’t know.

  13. Hopefully, most players simply enjoy competing. That’s why most of them started playing at age 5 or 6. If you’re in it for the money…if you’re Alex Barron or Jamarcus Russell…then there’s a red flag. You have to love playing and competing enough to play your college career. If you aren’t in it to compete, how can I count on you when it really matters?

  14. In fact, he should empty his locker now and go home. Only out of a feeling of obligation to his teammates, should he feel any loyalty, to play another game.

    Full stop!

  15. While I agree you risk injury, this is a what have you done for me lately world. If you sit out and some other guys have a big year maybe you slide to the second round and they are selected before you. This year Todd Gurley got 13 million dollar deal with over 9 mil guaranteed in round 1, while Ameer Abdullah only got a 4 million deal with about 2 million guaranteed in round 2.

    If you got injured and slid to rounds 4 or 5, those contracts still average about 2.5 million, but 500 k guaranteed. So in my opinion unless you can guarantee you will be a first round pick by sitting out the year it’s not worth the risk of sliding down in the draft to sit out.

    Additionally, by sitting out you likely risk the chance of getting any big sponsorship deals, which could be worth millions potentially.

  16. As much as I hate the idea, the threat of players forgoing their junior year is the only way to get the NCAA to pony up enough money to pay the kids.

    I also hate the idea of paying NCAA players but thats for another article.

  17. This is why NFL needs it’s anti-trust exemption revoked. Capitalism is fine but unrestrained monopolies are not acceptable.

    He must definitely sit out 2016 and concentrate on his education. I’m seriously wondering why NFLPA and any athlete-students are not suing NFL in a class action suit over the draft pick penalties to the Patriots.

    First, you openly put in a rookie wage table for the sake of NFL owners. Now you are denying two people who would have been drafted to go undrafted.

    Yes, you can call me Patriots homer (which I am) but I also stand first for the rights of the Labour class.

  18. Oh please all these scouts and “experts” are constantly wrong. This is nothing more than the usual crapshoot that any player is.

  19. peyton42 says:
    Sep 30, 2015 9:45 AM
    This is actually hard to argue with. In Clowney’s case, I didn’t think he had proven himself, but in Fournette’s case, there is no doubt this kid is going to be a star.

    How can anyone say something like “there is no doubt this kid is going to be a star?” What if he just dominates in college because he’s a physical freak, but doesn’t put in any effort to learn the nuances of the game that are necessary in the NFL? Dealing with such absolute statements are completely ridiculous.

  20. Im not sure “close to free” is the correct terminology. Maybe for you baby boomers when tuition didn’t cost much, but as a Millenial, the “menial” compensation of a free education is quite a bit of money, so much so that it consumes almost 100% of my full-time work income, and almost all of my “free-time”.

    The value of his scholarship per year is more than a lot of people without college degrees make. For a college kid depending on which school, he’s basically making 40,000-75,000 a year. Thats more than I make working 50 hours a week.

    So its not “close to free”, because thats like saying 40,000 dollars is “close to zero”. Taking a year off is way too much like NBA for me. College isn’t just about aquiring marketable skills, its also about proving you can handle life.

    First(among “equals”) world problems man.

  21. Just make sure you write an article about the players who would come out early and fail. With agents and attorneys involved it would be a collosal fail. Get your education with an insurance policy.

  22. There’s a difference between being physically ready and mentally ready. Julio Jones could have skipped his senior year of high school for the NFL if talent was the only requisite.

  23. Every yr you find an example of a college player that should sit out, only to be wrong. Oh well one day it may happen, not sure if it is anytime soon.

  24. LOL at the sanctimonious “play for the love of the game” crowd. This is real life. Fournette grew up in one of the most violent and poor neighborhoods in the entire country. Much of his family is in jail or has been killed due to violent crime. It is important that he protect his asset, which is his football skill and draft stock. Save the sanctimony, this kid will spend next year staying in shape and preparing for the 2017 draft if he is smart, and I think he is.

  25. Rabble rabble free education. Rabble rabble entitled!

    Sitting out would be a bad move, IMO. The better option would be going to play in Canada. You get paid, you stay relevant because you’re still playing, your skills continue to improve, etc.

  26. Running backs get used in the NFL and arent getting the second contracts they used to, with the exception of about 3 guys. Just have fun, play, and try to win a national championship and a Heisman. Nothing is garunteed tomorrow. Live for today

  27. Someone above said his dedication to football would be questioned?? Are you kidding me? You think any of the pros would play for free? Why do you think a CBA exists? Because the players dont love football? They arent willing to play for free wow they must all not love the game and not be dedicated to it (sarcasm). Such an antiquated and nonsensical view. Florio is often off but here he is spot on. Especially since running backs have to make their money before 30.

  28. As has been said elsewhere yesterday, sit it out, go keep in shape at the IMG Academy and stay healthy until the 2017 draft. Business is business. Not For Long league will be there, you have to make the most of it while you can especially after a Heisman like year.

  29. I don’t think this is an issue. FSU paid for Winston’s Loss of Value insurance premiums and that covered him for injury or illness. If Fournette’s value just goes down because he’s overrated or plays poorly, then YES, he would live with that risk. Playing in Canada wouldn’t help there. This discussion is just about maximizing value on when to come out and I don’t disagree with Florio there, but taking a year off cannot help too much. NFL franchises might question his love for the game. The bottom line is that this sucks for Fournette. Career longevity for that position is so limited (8 years might be long these days).

  30. Nice job ripping off Jemele Hill, Florio. Not even a mention of the fact she said this 4 days ago.

  31. RB is a thankless position, thats takes tremendous amounts of abuse. I don’t see why the NFL can’t have an exception process…have a panel of scouts, NFLPA, front office, review film, interview and make a binding decision.

    I’d think the NFL would love this because the process would be case by case…no letter of the law to follow.

  32. I find it kind of unbelievable that in America a corporation can deny you the chance to even apply for a job even though you are a legal adult and have done nothing wrong.
    I thought this country stood for freedom, liberty, the ability to pursue your happiness and all that?
    Or do we just stand for protecting billionaires from themselves because they might make a bad investment? Or protecting the largess that the NCAA makes off the backs of young men & women?

  33. Nobody thought Maurice Clarett was a generational talent. NOBODY. Plus he showed all kinds of character concerns while in school, and that is certainly not the case with Fournette.

  34. I’ve always said that the NCAA is like a plantation. Most kids don’t want the education in order to play sports. NCAA and the S.E.C. make so much money that they should give players a stipend. I doubt it would match the NFL pay wages but most don’t make it to the NFL.

    LSU has a lot of depth at RB now that the could survive if Fournette sits. They’ve produced several RBs in the last few years. If he sits, I just hope he doesn’t turn into Cecil Collins with the time he’ll have to do nothing. Idleness is the devil’s workshop.

  35. Sit the year & finish his degree. Then announce that he’s not declaring for the NFL & instead will be volunteering abroad. Once not drafted, sign with the Dallas Cowboys & run behind the best O-line in the NFL.

    Don’t blame me, I had a loose eyelash.

  36. Perhaps colleges should be allowed to insure players in Fournette’s position for up to 20 million dollars in case their NFL career is ended by injury. This might take of both the athlete’s and the university’s interests.

  37. darkgoody says:
    Sep 30, 2015 9:55 AM

    Yeah I wouldn’t play for free as an RB of his caliber. He should sit.


    Because that scholarship he got is worth nothing…the living expenses…the food…books…supplies…etc….

    He’s getting paid.

  38. The degree is only as valuable in the job market as the time you put into it. Just showing up with a piece of paper isn’t going to cut it when there are ten people ahead of you in line who have put in the work.

    Playing football in college is a 40-plus hour a week job that leaves little or no time for school. That’s why there is a system of tutors, test takers, and courses in Underwater Basket Weaving to keep the player academically eligible.

    The bottom line is that the degree they don’t pay for isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

  39. Any guy that sets out a year will not be a first round pick. It’s risky enough taking a running back in the first round anyway (Trent Richardson anyone?), but to take a guy that hasn’t played for a year is even riskier. I don’t care how much you train, you lose a bit of the edge if you’re not playing. And you can just as easily get injured training as you can in a college football game. Except then you won’t have your education to fall back on, or to help you get a job on tv, when the league says you’re over the hill at 30. If you want proof of that, ask Beanie Wells. He appears on a local news station in Cleveland on Sundays. Not exactly as high profile as Robert Smith on ESPN.

  40. Any good paying job requires experience and/or training. It doesn’t matter how smart/gifted you are, you can’t graduate high school and become a Dr. You have to put in the work before you get paid!!

    The NFL rule says players must be out of high school for 3 years before they are eligible. This gives them 3 years to work on skills and develop physically. Truthfully, how many 18 year old kids have you seen that could physically handle the NFL?????

    Nothing says Fournette has to play at LSU. If he wants to be paid now he could join the CFL or AFL! He plays at LSU because he can workout for free, meals and boarding are covered, he can improve his craft against top tier defenses/players, and he press coverage he gets. Oh yea and he also has the opportunity to get a degree. How many players wash out of the NFL and have a degree to fall back on?

  41. Once the bowl game is over, sign with an agent, get an advance, get a shoe contract, a couple of marketing deals, he would be in high demand on the autograph circuit..since he wouldn’t be in the NFL or NCAA he could hit it big as a celebrity endorser in the off year with the gambling and fantasy companies.

    spend the year letting his body recover and train to get ready for the pro game with former players at one of those high performance academies…

    It’s what Clowney should have done…he hasn’t been right since his unnecessary extra South Carolina season either….

  42. Simple solution:
    Players can enter the draft their first two years out of high school, but they cannot sign with an agent. If they are not selected in the first three rounds after their freshman year they must wait until they are selected in the first three rounds the follow year or until they are three years removed from high school. Teams cannot negotiate with players who are only one or two years removed from high school until they have been drafted and have hired an agent. Teams that try to skirt the rules and negotiate with players who do not have agents and are under the age requirement forfeit their third round pick of the next draft.

  43. His future is bright but he is no where near AP status. AP is 1 in a billion and was doing this at 18 where LF took a year to get going plus he isn’t as strong as AP was when he was his age.

    LSU puts out so many NFL players a year it’s almost another Bama type situation. Rb’s are great in college because of the NFL talent up front but when they get into where the Talent is leveled out then it’s a whole other ball game

  44. Another consideration is that so many kids start school later/are held back for athletic achievement, three years in college makes absolutely no sense.

    Fournette will be 21 just after the season ends this year in January with another two years to go. Make it 19 years of age and spend at least one year in college.

    Or set up a professional farm system and leave college football to the regular Joe’s.

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