One of the biggest questions about the Jacksonville Jaguars going into the 2017 offseason and beyond is about the future of the quarterback position. In Thursday’sintroductory press conference, executive VP of football operations Tom Coughlin simply stated that Blake Bortles was the Jaguars quarterback. That comment however wasn’t really an endorsement of Bortles more so than a pure statement of fact. Bortles is a quarterback on the Jaguars and will be a quarterback on the Jaguars in 2017, but beyond that it’s still up in the air.
With the two-year extension given to general manager Dave Caldwell, despite his clear demotion in power in the building, many feel that means that the Jaguars will be picking up the fifth-year option on Bortles rookie contract. The fifth-year option was a new addition to the most recent CBA to help curb the rookie salaries, but it gives the team an extra layer of control of a player hitting the market. If a team chooses to execute the fifth-year option for Bortles, it would mean for the 2018 season his salary would be equal to that of the average of the salary of the Top 10 players at his position, guaranteed if injured. That means you have to be mindful of that next year if you exercise it.
The fifth-year option for Bortles, since he plays quarterback, is quite high. Just based on the current salaries in the NFL, Bortles fifth-year option would be $22.36 million. That number is not set in stone and likely will change, probably to more expensive, depending on if it’s based on the 2016 or 2017 season salary. One interesting thing to note is that the other option for the Jaguars for Bortles, the franchise tag, is roughly the same price. The 2016 franchise tag for quarterback was $19.9 million, which means for the 2018 offseason it will likely rise to somewhere around $22-24 million just based on the rate at which it’s increased over the past few seasons.
As you can see, the difference between the fifth-year option and the franchise tag in guaranteed salary is minuscule, if at all.
That’s exactly why the Jaguars should not pick up Bortles fifth-year option. There really is no benefit to doing so, because even if you pick it up and Bortles suddenly becomes amazing, you’re going to be paying a lot more in the form of a long term contract. If you don’t pick it up and he suddenly becomes amazing, guess what? You can franchise tag him for the same price and still sign him to a long term project.
Yeah, you could argue that you could use the franchise tag on someone else, but ultimately they won’t have very many targets worthy of using it and the most important thing going forward is quarterback. There’s no reason to marry yourself to Bortles right now for multiple seasons unless you absolutely have to.