If you don’t believe that the top of the 2017 NFL draft was a mistake, just ask the teams that selected at the top of the 2017 NFL draft. Reports this weekend that the Jacksonville Jaguars are declining the fifth-year option on Leonard Fournette and the Chicago Bears have made a similar decision on Mitch Trubisky mean that teams are on a record pace for conceding that the supposed cream of the crop hasn’t panned out.
The 2011 CBA created a new rule
The Chicago Bears went right down to the deadline on deciding whether to exercise their fifth-year option on quarterback Mitch Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft. Under terms of the 2011 collective bargaining agreement. Teams had until this weekend to decide whether they want to extend the contract of 2017 first-rounders from four years to five.
The Bears’ dilemma was that Trubisky hadn’t made offering an extension a no-brainer. He has 48 touchdown passes and 29 interceptions in 41 games since coming into the league, motivating them to deal for Nick Foles during the offseason.
The combination of that acquisition and the nearly $25 million price tag on Trubisky’s option meant the Bears were ready to take a pass, betting that the former University of Arizona QB won’t make them regret it with a big 2020 season.
With that being the case, four of the first five picks in the 2017 NFL draft could be playing for new teams in 2021. Cleveland has exercised its option on overall No. 1 pick Myles Garrett, but Solomon Thomas (San Francisco), Leonard Fournette (Jacksonville), and Corey Davis (Tennessee) have been declined.
So, Chicago’s decision on Trubisky made a historically bad draft even worse.
The decision on Leonard Fournette wasn’t a tough call
Adam Schefter of ESPN was the first to report this weekend that the Jacksonville Jaguars won’t exercise their option on running back Leonard Fournette, which would have guaranteed him a little more than $8.4 million for 2021. That’s too much to spend on a running back, according to most NFL teams.
Fournette was a 1,000-yard rusher as a rookie and missed half the 2018 season with an injury. Last fall saw him rush for 1,152 yards and catch 76 passes, but he has been the subject of trade rumors this spring as the Jaguars have begun another overhaul.
The decision on Fournette came a day after Tennessee declined its option on receiver Corey Davis, the fifth pick of the draft. With 142 catches and six touchdowns in three seasons, the Titans decided he will be too expensive to keep around.
The 2017 NFL draft wasn’t a total washout
Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey, the only first-rounder thus far to negotiate a multi-year contract, was also part of the group. Even though he isn’t being extended, Leonard Fournette is hardly a washout.
On the other hand, the Raiders and Dolphins have already traded away Gareon Conley and Charles Harris, respectively. And, of course, the Cowboys cut Taco Charlton.