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What kind of ‘competition’ do you bring in for Blake Bortles?

Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The biggest story for the Jacksonville Jaguars as we head towards the 2017 offseason is the vacant head coaching position, but the second biggest story is what the Jaguars do at the quarterback position with Blake Bortles. Bortles will likely be on the roster, because he’s under contract and there’s nothing to gain from cutting him, but the question of who the start will be looms large. The Jaguars will have to also make a decision on Bortles’ fifth-year option, which I do not anticipate they’ll exercise, which means they’ll need to have a backup plan in case Bortles is a disaster once again.

The most common sentiment you’ll see is that the Jaguars should bring in “competition” for the quarterback position. But, what does that really mean?

Most people use this word to describe bringing someone in at least equal to Bortles with a fair chance of beating him out for the starting quarterback position. While that sounds simple enough, it’s much more complicated than that because of the nature of the position. Quarterback is a unique animal, especially in the NFL, which is why things like being benched and getting pulled mid-game are such a huge deal. When you have a quarterback “competition”, it’s almost always inherently unfair and stacked for one side, the incumbent.

It’s like a championship match in professional wrestling. The challenger has to win by pin or submission. They can’t win by disqualification or count out. You have to legitimately beat the guy to take his job, and in the vast majority of cases, teams will not allow that to happen. Like a professional wrestling match, the outcome is predetermined.

So what quarterbacks are available to bring in as “competition”? It’s not a pretty list. Here are the pending free agents, Kirk Cousins excluded because he’s expected to get the franchise tag again, at the least.

· Ryan Fitzpatrick

· Case Keenum

· Shaun Hill

· Matt Schaub

· Matt McGloin

· E.J. Manuel

· Blaine Gabbert

· Matt Cassel

· Mark Sanchez

· Brian Hoyer

· Geno Smith

· Austin Davis

· Kellen Clemens

· Dan Orlovsky

· Josh Johnson

· Ryan Mallett

· Christian Ponder

· Mike Glennon

· Thaddeus Lewis

· T.J. Yates

· Kellen Moore

· Matt Barkley

· Ryan Nassib

· Landry Jones

It’s not an inspiring list, nor is it a list where you see someone who you think could immediately come in and flat out beat Blake Bortles in an open competition. Remember, in the NFL in quarterback competitions, the new guy has to just flat out be better, nearly every day. Even with a new coaching staff, there is an investment there with Bortles and that 2015 season still looms, because it was a good season despite what some people try to re-write it as. No one on that list is an answer and that’s the problem because the question you’re asking is about the quarterback position.

“But, what about a trade,” you ask.

Trades are an entirely different animal because you’re now investing assets and capital into someone, whereas with free agency it’s just capital, and things like draft picks are much more valuable. If you end up trading for someone to come it, it’s again not going to be an actual “competition” because if you invest assets into a quarterback to come in and they lose the “competition”, the likelihood is you’ve wasted those assets and won’t get the return on your investment. Can you think of any situations where a team trades for a quarterback while having an “open competition” and that quarterback didn’t win? If you’re trading for a quarterback, you’re trading for your starter. The competition will swing to be stacked against him.

As mentioned, the quarterback position is unique. It’s not like bringing in an offensive lineman or a linebacker to compete for playing time. Those players can switch off and there’s not much fuss made about it, because in the grand scheme they’re more part of a unit than anything. They can be interchangeable parts, but the quarterback is the linchpin.

You can’t freely pull the linchpin. It’s a calculated and measured decision.

The Jaguars will either start Blake Bortles in 2017 with a fake “competition” or they’ll trade/draft someone who will win a fake “competition”. Stay woke.