2018 NFL Draft: Should the Jacksonville Jaguars Trade Up in the 1st Round?

LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 18: Lamar Jackson /

The Jacksonville Jaguars have locked into Blake Bortles as their starter for next season, but should they still aggressively target a QB in the draft?

After signing former first round pick Blake Bortles to a contract extension last weekend, opinions varied pretty wildly about what the transaction really meant.

In the short term, it means Bortles will be the starter in 2018 and likely 2019 barring some kind of monumental regression on his part.

In the long term, it doesn’t preclude the Jaguars from finding his eventual successor, even if that time might come in two years.

When analyzed in context with the other contracts given out (to head coach Doug Marrone, general manager David Caldwell, and executive vice president Tom Coughlin), it makes quite a bit of sense. Keep Bortles for now because any upgrade in free agency will either be a lateral move or entirely too expensive, but keep an eye trained on the future.

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That means drafting a quarterback.

In a recent piece for ESPN, Football Outsiders went through each team and listed a bold move they should make during the offseason.

For the Jacksonville Jaguars, they suggested aggressively acquiring their quarterback of the future – by trading up in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

"The structure of Bortles’ deal is interesting. Although he is signed to the Jaguars for three years instead of one, at approximately $18 million in base salary per year, the average falls below the injury-guaranteed figure of $19.5 million from his fifth-year option. While it indicates some degree of confidence in the QB, it is also not prohibitive for the team to escape in the likely event Bortles does not improve further. This lets the Jaguars stick with Bortles in the short term, see how he develops, and move on to his replacement if he either stagnates or regresses in 2018.They should not wait. This is the richest, deepest class of both free-agent and draft-eligible quarterbacks in living memory. The Jaguars do not have the cap flexibility to compete for Kirk Cousins, but the depth of the draft class probably means somebody, somewhere is going to slide. If Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, to give one example, falls far enough that Jacksonville could trade up to grab him, that might even allow the Jaguars to move on from Bortles sooner — and firm them up as favorites for next season’s AFC South title"

I’ve been firmly on the “draft a quarterback” team since the end of the season and I haven’t changed that stance since Bortles signed the extension.

I’m not against taking a quarterback in the first round, but trading up is a different proposition. As the article notes, the abundance of options in free agency means there will be a few QB needy teams bowing out of the first round draft market if they invest a lot in a veteran signal caller. Right now, the number of teams looking to draft a QB seems rather large but once Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum, Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater, and A.J. McCarron find teams, the number of suitors will thin down.

If the Jaguars see someone like Jackson still available in the early 20s, trading up might be smart if the price is right.

Of course they could always go the other direction and trade down.

What do you think?