As reported last night, the Jacksonville Jaguars have signed rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert to a 4-year deal worth $12 million, fully guaranteed with a 5th year club option. It's a breath of fresh air to see that kind of contract for a quarterback you traded up for to select 10th overall, compared to years past. By comparison the 10th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, defensive tackle Tyson Alualu, signed a contract worth $28 million with $17.5 million in guaranteed money.
The Jaguars starting practice last night without their rookie quarterback initially. About 20 minutes into practice however, you could hear the crowd of roughly 2,900 Jaguars began cheering and screaming. We all turned around and noticing Blaine Gabbert trotting out onto the field holding his cleats in his hand with a big smile across his face.
I suspected that was going to be the case, so I had a story queued up ready to hit "publish" when he trotted out. All day it felt like he'd be in practice that evening, especially because the Jaguars made an effort to prime the event and get out a huge crowd. Gene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union tweeted a nice quip, of which the thought had crossed my mind as well. "Not that Gabbert arriving 20 minutes after practice started was orchestrated or anything like that," Frenette tweeted.
For much of the practice Gabbert stood next to new quarterbacks coach Mike Shepperd looking over his should at the play-sheet and talking to each quarterback as they took a break from a rep. You could tell Blaine was trying to just soak everything in. The team didn't really let him participate much, because it was his literal first day and had just signed his deal. Del Rio teased the crowd however, putting Gabbert in at quarterback during the 11x11 drills, of which there was a huge roar of the crowd. When the ball was snapped though, Gabbert simply just pitched the ball to undrafted rookie running back DuJuan Harris. Del Rio and Gabbert both busted out laughing, knowing they had pulled one over on the crowd.
"I haven't played football in a while, so it's been a long time coming. It was great to come out here, throw around with the guys and build that chemistry with everybody," Gabbert said after practice. Gabbert was jokingly asked about if he was a bit disappointed he didn't start college a year earlier, so he could have come out last year and really cashed in as a draft pick. "No, you can't control or worry about the past. I'm worried about from here on out. I can't dwell on the fact that guys got a lot more money last year, that's irrelevant to me," Gabbert replied.
Gabbert's first real pass in 11x11 drills was his only one, and the last one of practice. Gabbert ended practice on a high note by dropping a pass right between rookie safety Chris Prosinski and linebacker Eric Gordon to hit fullback Brock Bolenfor a long gain down the seam. It was definitely a "wow" pass that I didn't expect to see him make on his first real throw in camp, which hopefully is a good sign. "It was pretty cool, it was to to Brock. Brock and I have been throwing since I've been here. Completed it down the seam, it was pretty funny especially with him being a fullback split out wide," Gabbert said of his first pass.
I expect we'll see much more of Gabbert in team drills today and this evening in practice, so if you want to get a look at him up close, head out to the practice fields.