Tom Brady is officially leaving the New England Patriots, and the scramble to replace him is already underway. Will the Patriots look to the draft, free agency, a trade, or their own Jarrett Stidham to take the reins for the departing legend?
That and the official announcement on where Brady will play next year are perhaps the two-biggest dominoes left to fall in NFL free agency. There is one free agent QB on the market whose name isn’t being mentioned a ton with any potential opening, and that’s Blake Bortles.
What About Blake Bortles?
That absence from the conversation is understandable. Bortles was one of the most embattled starting quarterbacks in the NFL when he was with the Jacksonville Jaguars and in the QB1 slot from 2014-18.
Bortles lost his job to Nick Foles heading into the 2019 season and he played in just three games last year. That’s not exactly the kind of momentum you’d like to have heading into free agency. Bortles will probably need to find a suitor that still believes in his talent as a dual-threat QB, and that is likely to be present in a talent evaluator/coach who is familiar with him.
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The Boston Connection
The Patriots have that sort of connection on their staff with Bortles.
The Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels is one of the few who have drawn the connection:
Jedd Fisch, whom the team recently hired as an assistant coach, was Bortles’ offensive coordinator during his rookie season with Jacksonville in 2014. It wasn’t a great season. The Jags finished 3-13 that with Bortles sacked more than any other QB in the NFL. Bortles did engineer the only three wins of the season for the team, and he showed some flashes of positivity.
The following year without Fisch was much better for Bortles. He threw 35 TD passes but did lead the NFL with 18 interceptions. There is no way to know if Bortles’ improved play was due to Fisch’s exit, the QB’s maturation or both. In any case, things would spiral downward after Bortles helped the team to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth in 2017. Bortles and the Jags lost to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game that season and registered a disappointing 2018 campaign which led to the team adding Foles who was coming off a Super Bowl run with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Bortles to Patriots Idea isn’t That Crazy
If you think this is far-fetched remember this, the Patriots reportedly liked Bortles and would have drafted him in the first round in 2014 had the Jags not beat them to it.
Obviously, a lot has changed since then, but the Pats have never been above a potential reclamation project.
Bortles wouldn’t be a guy the Pats bring in as the expected starter. If there is any interest at all, it could be as a backup, or even as a third QB behind Stidham and another veteran or rookie. Keep an eye out on news on Bortles and the Patriots’ next move in wake of Brady’s announced departure.