The writing is on the wall. The Jacksonville Jaguars appear to be all set on taking a quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft.
The only thing that isn’t known is when that will happen and what round will the signal caller come from. The Jaguars, 10-6 last season and AFC South title owners, have a decision to make, especially now that Chad Henne has signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. Blake Bortles is the only quarterback on the Jacksonville Jaguars roster.
The team did not sign a veteran in free agency to compete with Bortles, who signed a three-year, $55-million deal that could reach $66 million with incentives. $26.5 million of the contract is guaranteed.
Now, the focus is on making sure the Jaguars can bring in someone to back up their new franchise signal caller and learn for the future.
“We realize we have to address that,” general manager Dave Caldwell said on Thursday. “We have a plan in place.”
That’s about all Caldwell would say. The Jacksonville Jaguars did not address the position last season in free agency or the NFL Draft. Bortles played arguably his two best games of the season in a 45-42 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Division Round and a 24-20 loss to the New England Patriots that sent the Jaguar home for the season.
“That doesn’t rule out the team signing one of the remaining available free agents, but it also doesn’t mean the team has no issue with having a rookie back up Bortles this season,” ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco wrote on Thursday.
Caldwell admitted the backup does not have to be a veteran, leading many to believe the NFL Draft is the target for this franchise.
“It’s not exactly a great list of veterans still available. Jay Cutler, Matt Cassel, Mark Sanchez, Matt Moore and Geno Smith top the list,” DiRocco added.
Henne has been Bortles backup since the third game of the 2014 season. He has played sparingly, but was in an open competition for the starting job in training camp last season because Bortles had issues with accuracy and turnovers.
After the first wave of quarterbacks are selected, look for the Jaguars to put their plan into action.
“Unless the Jaguars make a surprise move and put together a huge package to move up into the top 10 or 15, they’re not going to have a shot at the top group of quarterbacks. The second tier, which includes Lamar Jackson, Mason Rudolph, Luke Falk, Kyle Lauletta and Chase Litton, is their wheelhouse, and the Jaguars can get one of those players in the second or third round,” DiRocco said.