Fournette will fight, could win, grievance of guaranteed money

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The Jaguars made the first move in a $7.1 million game of chess, voiding the remaining guarantees in running back Leonard Fournette‘s contract and forcing Fournette to file a grievance aimed at challenging his status.

Fournette will have 50 days to file the non-injury grievance, pursuant to Article 43 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. And he will. And an arbitrator eventually will decide whether Fournette’s contract includes language sufficient to void future guaranteed salary, as authorized by Article 4, Section 9(g).

Under that provision, the player and the team “may negotiate the circumstances under which the guarantee of any unearned salary . . . may be voided.” So the question then would be whether Fournette’s contract authorizes the voiding of his future guaranteed salary if he is suspended for misconduct occurring during a game.

And the answer, based on Fournette’s contract, isn’t clear. The contract broadly voids guaranteed salary in 2019 and 2020 when the player “does not practice or play” for reasons other than a football-related injury, but it doesn’t specifically list failure to play due to a suspension for on-field misconduct. The problem, from the team’s perspective, is that the contract does enumerate other specific failures to play, including voluntary retirement, incarceration for a felony conviction (which implies that incarceration for a misdemeanor conviction doesn’t void guarantees), and suspensions for conduct detrimental to the team, violation of the Personal Conduct Policy, violation of the PED policy, or violation of the substance-abuse policy.

Thus, the argument from Fournette’s perspective would be that the failure to specifically include a suspension for on-field misconduct on the list exempts that type of a suspension from the general language voiding future guarantees.

However it plays out, Fournette undoubtedly will fight it. Too much is at stake. And Fournette can make a case that holds more than a little water.

24 responses to “Fournette will fight, could win, grievance of guaranteed money

  1. The Jags have a cancer in their locker room. They’d better trade or cut him if they want to try to improve the team. Fournette just isn’t that good.

  2. If Jags cut Fournette, he’ll earn A LOT more than his scheduled 2019 $2.9m and 2020 $4.1m. Guys like McCoy signed for $9m or Elliott and Lamar Miller at $7m level. McKinnon got $10.5m for San Fran.

    Or if traded, his new team is still going to have to pay the $2.9m and $4.1m under the contract next year.

    So WHO CARES. Fournette already has over $20m paid by the Jags, mostly from the $17m signing bonus.

  3. “and suspensions for conduct detrimental to the team”

    1) He was suspended for fighting.
    2) Fighting is bad PR, which is detrimental to the team.

  4. “when the player “does not practice or play” for reasons other than a football-related injury”

    In what world is this language not clear enough? The ONLY absence from the team he is allowed is because of a football injury. Period. Everything else could void the guarantee, so SHOW UP FOR WORK. Simple as that.

  5. This whole thing is slimey. The owners put these clauses in, and then elect a subservient commissioner that singularly hands out discipline, including suspensions. Goodell could pass that job on to others, or a committee, but then he wouldn’t have sole discretion as to whether a contract can be voided or not.

  6. But the team’s valid clause IS there: “and suspensions for conduct detrimental to the team” – it doesn’t say just for off-field situations, so can be on-field too. Case closed, Fournette loses.

  7. This seems pretty cut-and-dried on the surface, but these things rarely are so simple. Everything will depend on the specific wording of the contract and what position the team takes. If the team hangs their entire case on one sentence of the contract, and that sentence is judged to be too vague to enforce, the team loses.

  8. So if the team can void his guarantees if he does not practice or play ‘for reasons other than football injuries’ can they void his guarantees if he does not practice or play ‘because they want an excuse to void his guarantees so he is easier to trade or cut.’ That is a reason other than football related injury. Could they void his guarantees if he does not practice or play because the GM does not like the cut of his jib? I am pretty sure conduct detrimental to the team is a specific thing not just anything that sounds like it. He got suspended for fighting, which is more detrimental to the guy on the other team he is trying to hit. Although many forms of suspension may be ‘detrimental to the team’ you only get one suspension for one thing, no double whammy for the same act, and he already got suspended for fighting, which is different.

  9. There is no way he loses. He got suspended by the NFL for an altercation on the field. A billion dollar owner trying to stiff a contract. Not a good look for organization especially one that only recently left the bowels of the NFL.

  10. Drafted him a rookie keeper league and traded before playoffs last season for a 1st rd draft pick. Bullet dodged

  11. He will win this easily…see Reserve Clause MLB..whoever designates provisions of a contract pursuant to voiding of contract is responsible for the language of instrument…Fournette can’t have anything waived in his contract for sitting in the bench

  12. He should be to walk away and retire but then they would come after his already “guaranteed”money. The rich stiffing the workers again.

  13. How is on field conduct worthy of a suspension NOT detrimental to the team? It is even worse. It is DIRECTLY detrimental to the team’s chances of winning. Idiots handing their opponents 15 free yards have caused MANY a game to be lost

  14. I think this would pretty clearly indicate he will not be on the Jaguars next season.

    This whole season was a smoldering tire fire for Jacksonville. Coughlin’s face must’ve been beyond bright red.

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