Blake Bortles

The Top QBs Left In NFL Free Agency

Just after the NFL Draft, Jameis Winston found his new NFL home by signing a low-cost one-year deal with the Saints. Even with the former No. 1 overall pick off the market, there are still several notable names left. Here’s a rundown of some of the passers available here in May:

  1. Cam Newton: A slew of injuries have hampered the one-time MVP and the ongoing pandemic has prevented clubs from having their team doctors take a close inspection. Newton has gone under the knife multiple times throughout his career, including surgeries to his throwing shoulder and left foot. While Winston settled for a deal to serve as a backup – and perhaps a QB3 – Newton is still pushing for a starting job. Right now, there aren’t any clubs willing to hand him a QB1 gig, so he’ll probably have to wait this one out or temper his expectations. The Patriots, who currently have Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham as their top QBs, could be a fit, but there hasn’t been much movement on that front yet.
  2. Joe Flacco: Was Flacco an elite quarterback in his prime? That question will plague the football world forever. What we do know is that Flacco profiles as an experienced and inexpensive backup option for teams in need. The 35-year-old was sidelined for the second half of 2019 – his first season with the Broncos – and waiting for an opportunity to open up. At one point, Flacco was asked about his thoughts on the Eagles. But, with Carson Wentz, Jalen Hurts, Nate Sudfeld, and Kyle Lauletta on the depth chart, that no longer seems like a fit.
  3. Blake Bortles: Despite all of his flaws, the Jaguars handed Blake Bortles a three-year, $54MM deal in 2018 with $26.5MM guaranteed. One year later, they pushed him out the door for Nick Foles, leading him to L.A. After throwing a grand total of three passes last year, the former No. 3 overall pick is looking for a solid backup opportunity. The Rams have several QBs under contract behind Jared Goff, but there could still be an opportunity for him to return.
  4. Mike Glennon: With a dearth of quality QBs on the market in 2017, Glennon landed a three-year, $45MM deal with the Bears. Now 30 with a career 6-16 record, he’ll come for a lot cheaper. He earned just $1MM in base pay last year with the Raiders.
  5. Cody Kessler: Even after Tom Brady bid farewell, the Patriots decided that they didn’t need the former fourth-round pick on the roster. He’s got 12 career starts on his resume – unfortunately, the first eight came with the 2016 Browns.
  6. Trevor Siemian: We haven’t heard Siemian’s name mentioned recently. Fortunately, he’s said to have made a full recovery from his brutal Week 2 ankle injury.

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This Date In Transactions History: Jaguars Extend Blake Bortles

Two years ago today, the Jaguars took themselves out of the quarterback market by committing to Blake Bortles for three more years. The move was widely panned and, ultimately, it did not work out for Jacksonville. 

The Jaguars were fresh off of an AFC Championship Game appearance and their first playoff appearance in nine years. Bortles, meanwhile, tossed a career-low 13 interceptions. Still, his overall body of work did not inspire a ton of confidence – his 60.2% completion percentage actually marked a new career best.

Despite the question marks, Bortles became the first 2014 first-round pick to receive an extension – stars like Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald, and Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack were still negotiating for their new deals (They all, of course, secured long-term riches, though Mack has to get his elsewhere.)

Reported to be a three-year, $54MM pact, the deal included $26.5MM guaranteed with the potential to reach $66.5MM in total through bonuses. He did not earn those incentives, nor did he get to play out his deal – Bortles was cut loose in 2019, clearing the way for Nick Foles to take over.

Bortles went 3-9 in 12 starts for the Jaguars as head coach Doug Marrone flip-flopped him with Cody Kessler. During his five-year run with the Jaguars, Bortles led the league with 75 interceptions – more than one INT per start.

With his stock at an all-time low, the former No. 3 overall pick hooked on with the Rams last offseason. Playing behind Jared Goff, Bortles appeared in only three games and attempted two passes. Without a real opportunity to play in 2019, Bortles did not get a chance to silence his critics. Next month, he’ll be a free agent once again, and the Rams’ level of interest in bringing him back as their QB2 is unclear.

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Blake Bortles Expects To Become Starting QB Again

After a mostly disappointing tenure with the Jaguars, who made him the No. 3 overall pick of the 2014 draft, Blake Bortles was released by Jacksonville in March and caught on with the Rams a week later. Los Angeles obviously has Jared Goff entrenched as its starting QB, but Bortles expects to become a starting signal-caller in the NFL once again, as Kevin Patra of NFL.com writes.

Of course, one wouldn’t expect Bortles, 27, to say anything different. He understands that he will serve as Goff’s clipboard holder in 2019, but as a five-year starter, a former first-round draft pick, and a collegiate standout, his competitive fire is doubtlessly still burning. But if he does get another opportunity to start in the NFL, he is going to have to fight for it.

In that sense, landing with the Rams was probably the best possible scenario for Bortles. LA head coach Sean McVay has already developed a reputation as a quarterback whisperer, and if Bortles can put together some quality tape this preseason, it’s certainly possible that a club with an uncertain QB situation in 2020 would at least give Bortles a real chance at competing for a starting gig.

Bortles is already impressed with the 33-year-old HC. He said, “[s]eeing how [McVay] coaches, how all the other coaches coach and how the guys are receptive and take it, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Bortles added, “at the same time, I also expect to be a starter in this league again, and I know it’s not going to be here in L.A. So I’m trying to just better myself. … And if I get an opportunity to play, great. If not, then I spent a year learning from McVay, and being around a really good organization.”

Bortles will make just $1MM with the Rams this year, a far cry from the $5.5MM in base pay he was due to collect from the Jaguars. But he does have over $40MM in career earnings to date, so he won’t be hurting too badly.

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Rams Sign Blake Bortles

After visiting with him today, the Rams have signed embattled signal-caller Blake Bortles to a one-year deal, per a team announcement. ESPN’s Jeff Darlington was the first to report that a contract was being finalized (Twitter link).

Bortles will earn just $1MM, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), but that doesn’t make much of a difference for the QB since his previous Jaguars contract contained offset language. The $1MM sum will eat into the $6.5MM he’s owed by the Jaguars, which results in the same income for Bortles and a bit of relief for Jacksonville.

Bortles will certainly test the theory that Rams head coach Sean McVay can make any quarterback successful, and he will serve as the backup to starter Jared Goff. This signing also likely means that Goff’s 2018 backup, Sean Mannion, will be moving on. Mannion is an unrestricted free agent.

The third overall selection in the 2014 draft, Bortles hasn’t come close to living up to his draft status. Since Bortles entered the NFL with the Jaguars, 17 quarterbacks have attempted at least 2,000 passes: among those signal-callers, Bortles ranks dead last in adjusted net yards per attempt, quarterback rating, and interception rate, and is second-to-last in touchdown rate.

Bortles has never worked with McVay, but the two do have a tangential connection. Greg Olson was Bortles’ Jacksonville offensive coordinator from 2015-16 before taking over as the Rams’ quarterbacks coach under McVay in 2017. Olson left for Oakland after one year in Los Angeles, but it’s fair to assume he’s given McVay a Bortles scouting report that McVay apparently likes well enough. Plus, Bortles’ first OC, Jedd Fisch, is an offensive assistant on the Rams’ staff.

The Jaguars will certainly be interested to see how much money the Rams will be paying Bortles. Bortles still had guaranteed salary remaining on his Jacksonville deal, but thanks to offset language, the Jags will receive a cap credit equal to the amount of Bortles’ base salary (up to $6.5MM).

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Rams To Host Blake Bortles

The Rams will meet with quarterback Blake Bortles on Monday, according to Mike Silver of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Bortles, if signed by Los Angeles, would certainly test the theory that Rams head coach Sean McVay can make any quarterback successful. Current Jared Goff backup Sean Mannion is unrestricted free agent, so the club is in need of a new No. 2. Bortles, who was released earlier this week after the Jaguars signed Nick Foles, could fit the bill.

The third overall selection in the 2014 draft, Bortles hasn’t come close to living up to his draft status. Since Bortles entered the NFL, 17 quarterbacks have attempted at least 2,000 passes: among those signal-callers, Bortles ranks dead last in adjusted net yards per attempt, quarterback rating, and interception rate, and is second-to-last in touchdown rate.

Given his track record, Bortles should come relatively cheap. The Jaguars, though, are surely hoping he earns significant backup money with his next club. Bortles still had guaranteed salary remaining on his Jacksonville deal, but thanks to offset language, the Jags will receive a cap credit equal to the amount of Bortles’ next base salary (up to $6.5MM).

Bortles has never worked with McVay, but the two do have a tangential connection. Greg Olson was Bortles’ Jacksonville offensive coordinator from 2015-16 before taking over as the Rams’ quarterbacks coach under McVay in 2017. Olson left for Oakland after one year in Los Angeles, but it’s fair to assume he’s given McVay a Bortles scouting report.

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Jaguars Release Blake Bortles

After agreeing to sign Nick Foles, the Jaguars have released Blake Bortles, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network first reported several days ago that Bortles would be cut (Twitter link). Pro Football Talk tweets that Bortles will not be designated as a post-June 1 cut, which means the Jags will absorb a $16.5MM cap charge this season. However, short-term pain will give way to long-term gain, as Bortles will be completely off the books by 2020. That season, the Jaguars will also get cap credit (up to $6.5MM) based on the quarterback’s 2019 earnings (via Florio).

The writing appeared to be on the wall for a while now, especially after it was reported earlier this month that the Jags were the favorites to sign Foles.

The third overall pick of the 2014 draft, Bortles never lived up to his draft status. Bortles appeared to be on the ropes several times in Jacksonville, but he managed to battle back each time. After nearly being benched for Chad Henne before the season, he led the Jaguars to a shocking level of success in 2017, and helped them reach the AFC Championship Game. In response, the team awarded him a three-year, $54MM extension.

But Bortles collapsed this past year, and he was eventually benched for Cody Kessler, although he did reclaim the starting job at the very end of the season. In 13 games and 12 starts last year, Bortles threw for 2,718 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He will likely have to settle for a backup role this offseason wherever he lands.

Jaguars Not Ready To Release Blake Bortles

Blake Bortles‘ time with the Jaguars could be coming to a close, but he won’t get his pink slip on Friday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears. Before potentially releasing the quarterback, the Jaguars will likely wait to make sure they can find a quality substitute in free agency. 

[RELATED: Jaguars Release Malik Jackson, Carlos Hyde, Others]

That QB substitute, reportedly, will be Nick Foles, but nothing is final yet. Free agency does not formally begin until Thursday and the so-called “legal tampering” period does not get underway until Monday, March 11.

Only $6.5MM of Bortles’ $16.5MM contract is guaranteed for next season, so the Jaguars are expected to either release him or try to unload him in a Brock Osweiler type of trade. The former No. 3 overall pick is due a $1MM bonus on March 19, so it would be a shocker to see his situation linger beyond that date. By then, the Jaguars should either have a better signal caller in the fold or a plan to roll with Bortles plus a rookie passer.

Bortles, 27 in April, threw for only 13 touchdowns against eleven interceptions last season. In the middle of his 12 starts (which resulted in a 3-9 record), Bortles was demoted twice.

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Jaguars To Start Blake Bortles

The Blake Bortles era isn’t over yet in Jacksonville. On Wednesday, head coach Doug Marrone told reporters that Bortles will start in the team’s season finale against the Texans. 

Bortles was demoted twice this season, which signaled that a return to Jacksonville is unlikely. It’s unclear whether there’s any hope for that now, but Bortles did come through over the weekend to help the Jags beat the Dolphins. The Jaguars wound up winning 17-7 and, in theory, another strong showing from Bortles could impact the team’s offseason plans.

It was like holy s—, I miss this,” Bortles said (via Phillip Heilman of the Florida Times-Union). “I wanted to play. I wanted to get another opportunity. Obviously, I didn’t want to see anything happen to Cody, but to be given an opportunity, it just kind of feels like you’re back where you belong.”

Only $6.5MM of Bortles’ $16.5MM contract is guaranteed for next season, so the Jaguars are expected to either release him or try to unload him in a Brock Osweiler type of trade. At least, that’s the most likely scenario for now. Sunday’s game will be largely meaningless for the Jaguars, but it could have major ramifications for next year’s QB plans.

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Extra Points: Sherman, Bortles, Lincoln Riley, Ravens

It won’t be this year or the next, but at some point before he calls it quits on a likely Hall of Fame career, cornerback Richard Sherman is likely to make the move to safety, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch writes.

The four-time First Team All-Pro selection is open to it at least, saying:

“It’s definitely something that I’ve looked at,” Sherman said. “And something that I’ve talked with (Charles Woodson) about.”

In the first of a three-year deal with the 49ers, Sherman still rates as an above average cornerback according to Pro Football Focus. Now in his 30s, however, the star defender is already looking to make a similar move that prolonged the careers of Charles Woodson, Rod Woodson and Aeneas Williams. Despite the move, don’t expect him to play into his late 30s.

“I think 35 is probably my cutoff,” Sherman said. “I don’t think I want to play … they’d have a hard time getting me out of bed at 35 to go play. I think I’ve got four or five more (years) in me.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • After his benching, Blake Bortles is unlikely to be back with the Jaguars next season, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes. With $6.5MM of Bortles’ $16.5MM contract next season guaranteed, the Jaguars can hope that some team signs him for $6.5MM — unlikely — or package him in a trade with a team that would be considering signing him, a la Brock Osweiler. The Jaguars will still have a cap charge of $10MM, but the team can push $5MM of that into 2020.
  • The Ravens did not activate cornerback Jaylen Hill from the PUP list, officially ending his season. Recovering from a torn ACL and MCL, Hill was unlikely to take the field after recently suffering a setback.
  • With the college game becoming more intertwined with the professional ranks, Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports listed 10 college coaches who could make the jump to the NFL. To no one’s surprise, Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley was at the top of the heap thanks to his high-powered offense that produced a Heisman Trophy winner in Baker Mayfield, and potentially another in Kyler Murray. Other notable names on the list include Stanford’s David Shaw, former 49ers coach and current Michigan man Jim Harbaugh and Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald.

Jaguars Bench Blake Bortles

For the second time this season, the Jaguars have demoted Blake Bortles. The reeling team will turn to Cody Kessler in Week 13. Doug Marrone announced the change Monday.

The Jags demoted Bortles during a loss earlier this season, but after Kessler’s cameo, the defending AFC South champions reinstalled Bortles as their starter. That decision did not work out. The Jags lost their next four games and are now 3-8.

With its losing streak now at seven games, Jacksonville fired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Now, Bortles will head to the bench. The Jags acquired Kessler from the Browns this offseason, one that may be scrutinized for a while.

During a rocky 2017 Bortles season, the Jaguars were viewed as a prime suitor for quarterbacks in this year’s unusually deep market. But Bortles (and a No. 1-ranked defense) helped the Jags to the AFC championship game. Instead of moving on from Bortles, the franchise signed him to an $18MM-AAV extension and did not make a significant investment in a possible challenger for the embattled starter. Kessler, acquired for a conditional 2019 seventh-rounder, was the top offseason add.

Prior to their decision to bypass the the 2018 QB marketplace — which included Kirk Cousins, Alex Smith, Case Keenum, Tyrod Taylor and Teddy Bridgewater — the Jaguars passed on Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson to select Leonard Fournette during the 2017 draft. They now figure to be interested in a 2019 upgrade at the position though will have a difficult time shedding Bortles’ contract. The fifth-year passer is signed through 2020 and would cost the Jags $16.5MM in dead money to cut in 2019. Bortles has a $1MM roster bonus due in March, and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com adds (via Twitter) $6.5MM of his $14MM 2019 base salary is fully guaranteed.

Bortles posted a 46.8 Total QBR this season and threw for fewer than 130 yards in his past two games. The 2014 No. 3 overall pick has completed less than 60 percent of his passes in six of the seven games that have comprised the Jags’ losing streak.

A 2016 third-round pick, Kessler’s made eight starts — all in Cleveland’s 1-15 2016 season — and has thrown seven touchdown passes compared to four interceptions. He completed 70 percent of his passes, albeit at just 5.2 yards per attempt, in his lone Jags appearance this season.

The team is now plunging toward another top-10 pick, which would be its 11th in the past 12 years. Next year’s draft crop, though, is not expected to be as fruitful at the quarterback position as the most recent group of prospects was.

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