Early Saturday afternoon, via tweets from Jalen Ramsey and Brent Martineau, word began to trickle out of the Jaguars camp that something big was going to happen. This, just a day after the team cut RB Chris Ivory and extended the contracts of Dave Caldwell, Tom Coughlin, and Doug Marrone through 2021.
As dinner time approached there was no big announcement to be found. Finally, while I was sitting at dinner in Savannah, GA (leave it to me to pick the busiest Jaguars news weekend of the offseason to plan a weekend road trip with my girlfriend) it was released that Jaguars QB Blake Bortles received a contract extension through 2020. The Jaguars soon to be 5th year QB is coming off the best season of his career and has two post season wins to show for it. The new deal isn't fully guaranteed, but is worth $54 million and up to $66 million with incentives over three years. As Jaguars management usually does, the team reportedly entered some potential outs down the road in case things don't go well for Bortles.
This move might not make much sense on the surface. Why extend a guy that most teams would be actively looking to replace?
There are several reasons. The easiest to figure is that Bortles' cap number is in 2018 is actually much, much smaller than what his 5th year option would have been if the team had decided just to let him play out this last year. Bortles new deal actually saves the team about $9 million in cap space this year. So, they get to keep him for longer and cheaper than they would have if Bortles plays well in 2018. If Bortles improves again next season then he'll likely be a top 10 type of QB and the Jaguars will actually be the ones getting a deal. In that scenario the Jaguars will also be able to avoid contract talks for at least one off season. On a deal worth $18 million a year Bortles will have just the 17th biggest annual salary for a QB going in 2018, assuming no-one else besides Kirk Cousins gets bigger money than Bortles just received from the Jaguars. It's almost unheard of for a starting QB in the NFL to get a new contract that is that far off from where the NFL leaders at the position are salary wise. And even if Bortles does hit his incentives that'll likely lead to success for the Jaguars. On the flip side, if Bortles is stagnant or regresses the Jags won't be stuck with him for long and his cap figure won't cripple their spending over the next couple of years.
Blake Bortles had this to say when he spoke to First Coast News on the phone Saturday evening:
It's a dream come true to get a second contract from the team that drafted me. You know, that's been one of my goals from the start. So it's exciting to get it all done and get rolling now. It's no doubt, I think, by far the best fitting place for me to be.
The Jaguars now appear to be set with their starting QB. But will they address the backup position and potentially add what they feel is a QB of the future? Some have speculated that the Jags could take a QB as high as #29. Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph will likely both be there for the Jaguars. But will they pounce? Or will they use their pick to address a need? Tight end, wide receiver, offensive guard?
Regardless of what the Jaguars do in the draft, they've now locked up their starting QB for 2018, at the very least. A guy coming off his best season as a pro and two impressive playoff wins, Blake Bortles should have all the confidence in the world moving forward and should be in line to have an even better 2018 than he did 2017. Don't get me wrong, I'm not calling Blake a hero, an elite QB, or anything of the sort. I'm just saying at this point in the Jaguars maturation process as a franchise and as a team having Blake Bortles around at a smallish cap figure for a QB might not be such a bad idea.
Are you happy with the Jaguars decision to extend Blake Bortles contract?
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