The Jaguars look to be out of the market for a quarterback agreeing to a three-year, $54MM contract extension with Blake Bortles, which includes $26.5MM guaranteed and could reach $66.5MM in total with incentives. The team confirmed the move Saturday night (Twitter link).
“Blake’s growth and development last season was a key to the success we had as a team,” said Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin said in a team release. “Blake has proven, with toughness and dependability, that he can be the leader this team needs going forward. Along with this contract come high expectations that he will continue to improve and help our team accomplish its ultimate goal.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the terms of the deal and ESPN colleague Josina Anderson first reported that the two sides were working on a deal. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com was first to report the deal could be done as early as Saturday night.
With the incentives in the deal, Bortles could make up to $22.5MM annually over the next three seasons. Without the incentives in place, the deal would net Bortles $18MM per year, placing him right behind Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill ($19.25MM) in average annual salary. The 49ers made Jimmy Garoppolo the highest paid player in the NFL on average annually this offseason at $27.5MM.
Bortles, 25, was already under contract with the Jaguars for 2018 and was due to make $19MM as the team picked up his fifth-year non-guaranteed option last May. But Bortles’ reported new deal will keep him in Jacksonville through 2020 and eliminates a team from a crowded group that’ll be seeking new quarterbacks this offseason.
Schefter points out that the extension gives the Jaguars a chance to see if Bortles can flourish into the player they imagined when they selected him third overall in 2014. It also gives them an extended chance to seek out other long-term options at quarterback with Bortles under contract. ESPN’s Field Yates also identified that Bortles is the first player from the 2014 draft class to receive an extension. Players such as Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald and Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack could join Bortles in that aspect in the near future.
The Jaguars made it to the AFC Championship last season with Bortles under center and were winners of the AFC South, snapping a nine-year postseason drought, but he’s dealt with consistency issues throughout his career. Bortles has started all 16 games in each of the last three seasons for the Jaguars. He threw a career-low 13 interceptions in last year’s regular season while completing a career-best 60.2% of his passes. Bortles also underwent right wrist surgery this offseason, confirming the move Saturday (Twitter link), with the injury reportedly affecting him starting in December 2016.
As for as the receiving corps Bortles will be working with, top targets Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson are both set to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason. The team still has the likes of Allen Hurns and Dede Westbrook under contract for next year, along with tight end Marcedes Lewis.