The biggest question the Jacksonville Jaguars may have to answer concerning its current roster is whether or not the franchise will pick up the fifth-year option on quarterback Blake Bortles. Bortles, the No. 3 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, is set to walk into the 2017 season under his current rookie deal.
Despite the fact the team has said it would go into this season with Blake Bortles as its starter, there has been grumbling that there may be another arm or two in camp to challenge the former UCF star.
Bortles’ numbers were significantly less than 2015 when he set a franchise record for throwing for over 4,400 yards and 35 touchdowns. During his four years in Jacksonville, Bortles has played for three different offensive coordinators.
In a June 10, 2015, story by Mike Florio on profootballtalk.com, Bortles said he wanted to become a $100 million quarterback in the league, much like Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and others who have signed big-number deals. After 2015 season’s progression from a sub-par rookie year, it looked as if the Jaguars had found their franchise signal caller.
“$100 million is always exciting,” Bortles said in a story written by Vito Stellino that first appeared on Jacksonville.com. “Those guys all earn it. They’re great quarterbacks and they get paid what they deserve.”
But it’s not always about whether a quarterback “deserves” the money. It’s about whether a quarterback has the ability and willingness to leverage his situation into a nine-figure contract. The Jaguars, who changed head coaches by naming Doug Marrone as the new man to replace Bradley, are starting over with general manager David Caldwell still holding onto the role he was hired to do, but now he has executive vice president Tom Coughlin to answer to.
Coughlin was candid last week when he told the media he wanted this team to be tougher than it has been and that Bortles and his teammates had to play harder.
Conor Orr of NFL.com wrote on Thursday the Jaguars are not bailing on Bortles. Over the last two days at the NFL Scouting Combine, their decision-makers have made that extremely clear.
But that does not mean they’ll trip over themselves to sign Blake Bortles to his fifth-year option. The team has until May to make that call and, according to Caldwell, will be taking their time.
“Just like with everything we’ve done from the end of the season until now, we’ll get a lot of input from our coaches,” Caldwell said. “We’ve got [organized team activities], we’ve got mini-camps, we’ve got a lot of things between now and then to see where he’s at. I don’t think any decision will be made until closer to May.”
The Jaguars just renegotiated a contract with backup quarterback Chad Henne, who has been a teacher to Blake Bortles and they still have second-year quarterback Brandon Allen on the roster.