The Jaguars starting QB position has been held down by Blake Bortles for the last three seasons and change. Since 2014 he's thrown the most interceptions in the NFL and, at times, has made it nearly impossible for the Jaguars to win.
In 2017, however, he flipped the script. Bortles was a much cleaner and more efficient QB. He completed over 60% (60.2%) of his passes for the first time in his career. Including the playoffs he threw 24 touchdown passes to just 13 interceptions (0 in the postseason). He also quarterbacked an offense that finished sixth in total yards. In the two biggest games of his career, on the road in the playoffs against the Steelers and Patriots, Bortles was terrific. In the end, however, he got outdueled by the GOAT.
There's no question that, under the tutelage of Nate Hackett, Bortles turned a corner this year. If he returns to be the Jaguars QB in 2018 then the team will still have a great chance at the playoffs and could win a game or two once they get there, but can they win the ultimate prize with Bortles at the helm?
A completion percentage of 60.2 %, which was by far Blake's career best, isn't generally considered good enough. The best QBs in football hover between 65-70%. Is Bortles magically going to transform into a more accurate passer in his fifth season? I think not. He could improve, especially if the Jaguars upgrade his weapons and offensive line, but in my eyes he would have to make a meteor leap to become an upper echelon QB. Still, he provides value. At $19 million he is cheaper than any proven QB on the open market would be. It's also possible that the Jaguars could throw his fifth year option out the window and sign him to a more team friendly deal. Bortles has made it clear he wants to stay in Jacksonville, so there is reason to believe that Bortles would take a bit of a hometown discount. He's also familiar with the offense and all the weapons currently employed by the Jaguars. And has no problem being a game manager.
On the other side of things Adam Schefter thinks the Jaguars are going to be on the hunt for a new QB this offseason -- Schefty is usually money.
There's only one truly attractive QB that has a real chance of hitting the open market and that's Kirk Cousins. But Cousins will cost in the ballpark of $30 million per year. Is a guy that's already 29 and has never won a playoff game really that much of an upgrade over Bortles, who is only 25 and coming off the best season of his career? Perhaps he would be a major upgrade. A career completion percentage of over 65 and a favorable touchdown to interception ratio are certainly enticing. But would he be willing to orchestrate an offense where, at times, he wouldn't be asked to throw the ball often? Would he be willing or able to win games with his legs if the passing game isn't working?
There's also the entire Minnesota QB room that appears ready to break up. Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, and Sam Bradford have all had impressive seasons in the NFL, but each has warts.
As for Drew Brees, Jimmy G and Alex Smith, it doesn't seem like any of those players will be moving on from their current team, despite lots of speculation.
If the Jaguars don't see fit to replace Bortles via free agency or trade, they could also attempt to draft his replacement in the upcoming NFL Draft.
The question as to whether or not Blake Bortles should be the Jaguars QB moving forward is, for good reason, the greatest point of contention surrounding the Jaguars heading into the 2018 season.
What would you do if you were running the Jaguars?
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