The Jacksonville Jaguars have been unable to parlay an impressive 2017 season complete with a playoff run into success this year. In turn, multiple changes were made across the roster and coaching staff, including the call to demote quarterback Blake Bortles. This move was made prior to the team’s Week 13 game against the Indianapolis Colts and the starting job was given to Cody Kessler.
“I had a chance to talk to both Blake and Cody earlier today and I told both those guys the same thing: I’m making this change to give us an opportunity to win a football game,” Marrone told reporters. “Cody knows the offense. He’s been in where he’s not really prepared that week, so he’ll have a full week of preparation.”
After Bortles was removed from his starting role, the Jaguars picked up the win over the Colts, but it came in the form of a 6-0 win with Kessler taking on a game manager role. Regardless, the victory snapped a seven-game losing streak which came after Jacksonville’s 3-1 start to the year.
Bortles’ Struggles Through Season
Although Bortles, who was the No. 3 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, has regressed in recent seasons, he’s also taken a backseat to the run game. Specifically, Leonard Fournette has been the team’s focal point over the last two seasons, but an injury sidelined him throughout the start of the year.
The 26-year-old quarterback was on pace for the fewest touchdown passes since his rookie season and had thrown 10 interceptions through less than 11 full games. It was a far cry from the player who threw for 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns in the 2015 season.
Over the final seven games Bortles played in, he completed less than 59 percent of his passes in all but one. Along with the lack of consistency when it came to accuracy, he also fell below 150 passing yards in four of those games. The question now becomes, whether he’s played his last down with the Jaguars and what may be next for Bortles.
Blake Bortles’ Contract and Future Outlook
If the Jaguars plan to move on from Bortles, there’s a good chance it may not happen after the 2019 season. The decision for the team to give the inconsistent quarterback a three-year, $54 million contract extension was head-scratching at the time, but it leaves them in a tough spot now. Due to the structure of the deal, the Jaguars may have Bortles as a backup (or starter) in 2019, unless they manage to trade him.
As Over The Cap shows, Jacksonville does a potential “out” from the quarterback’s deal after the 2019 season. They’d still be hit with $5 million in dead money but would save $18 million in cap space if he was released. That same situation doesn’t stand following the 2018 season, though, as things get interesting there.
If Bortles were released after this season as a pre-June 1 cut, the team would incur a $16.5 million dead money hit while saving just $4.5 million in cap space. Even if he’s a post-June 1 cut, Bortles still comes with $11.5 million in dead money while clearing $9.5 million in cap savings. Overall, it’s tough to envision Bortles not remaining with the Jaguars in some capacity in 2019, or possibly being traded.
In the latest update, NFL Networks’ Ian Rapoport revealed the Jaguars are planning to move on from Bortles in the upcoming offseason. How that happens will be the big question, as Jacksonville may have to get creative.