Despite one of his worst seasons in a Jacksonville Jaguars uniform, should the Jacksonville Jaguars give quarterback Blake Bortles another opportunity next season?
I love the idea of the Devil’s Advocate. In the case of Blake Bortles, those who are in favor of keeping the fifth-year starter on the Jacksonville Jaguars roster in 2019 are by far in the minority. But what if the organization keeps the much-maligned player on the roster next season as the starter?
Yes, you heard that right? I am not saying it is the best move to make, but there are those out there who make an argument for management to create an upheaval of colossal proportion. Ask many of the local media here in Jacksonville and they will all side with the idea that Bortles will play his last game in a Jaguars uniform on Sunday.
Then, there are some who think not only should Bortles be back in Jacksonville next season, but he should be the opening game starter.
"“Based on the historic lack of offensive production over the last 3 ½ games, it’s pretty easy to say Blake Bortles is the best quarterback on the Jaguars roster,” writes long-time sportscaster Sam Kouvaris. “Giving him a shot with Scott Milanovich calling the plays seemed like a better option to find an answer.”"
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So far, the Milanovich experiment has failed and the offense, which was supposed to look different with Bortles on the bench and Cody Kessler under center, has looked even worse at times over the last month.
Yes, there are the financial difficulties of releasing Bortles, as Michael DiRocco wrote in a Nov. 26 story that appeared on ESPN.com. It will cost the organization a lot of cash to let their former first-round draft pick walk in 2019.
"“The three-year, $54 million extension Bortles signed in February includes a $1 million roster bonus payable on the fifth day of the 2019 league year and guarantees $6.5 million of his 2019 salary.“In addition, the Jaguars would have to count $16.5 million in dead money against the salary cap if they cut Bortles before the 2019 league year begins, though that figure drops to $11.5 million after June 1. He has a salary-cap number of $21 million if he remains on the roster, so Jaguars management has to decide which is the lesser evil: Paying him to stay or paying $5 million less for him to not be on the roster.”"
The question then becomes whether the Jaguars are willing to sign a free agent veteran who will cost them a hefty contract and draft a quarterback in the first two rounds of the draft? If Bortles stays with a rookie on board, would the team allow their current starter to become the bridge quarterback to their future?
It seems illogical, but it may make sense given the free agent quarterbacks this offseason are underwhelming and the rookie draft class is not as deep as last season.
You can make the argument that although he has looked awful at times this season, he has been hampered by a porous offensive line and a running game that has seen Leonard Fournette on the sidelines more than on the field this season. As head coach Doug Marrone said on Friday when he met with the media, Fournette has played in less than 30 percent of the team’s snaps on offense this season.
You cannot win games with a run-first offense if you cannot run the football. And injuries on the offensive line, at wide receiver and at tight end have not helped either.
"“I think it’s tough to argue that we wouldn’t be better without those guys out on the field,” Bortles said on Wednesday when he met the media. “That’s why they were starting and were paid and all of that. That’s a realistic part of it.”"
I don’t expect the Jaguars to keep Bortles next season. I fully see this team eating $16.5 million in dead money to rid themselves of an era many would soon love to forget. Bortles did help this team to the AFC Title game for the first time since 1999 last season. But in the NFL, amnesia is a real thing. You are only as good as your last game.
Bortles didn’t have too many of those good games this season. It is part of the reason Jacksonville is 5-10 this season. The other reasons are negotiable. For now, however, until Bortles is released, he is a member of the Jaguars franchise.
There is a chance he might be around in 2019. But anyone around here should now, that its slim at best he is the starter of this football team next season.