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Doug Marrone non-committal on Blake Bortles, as expected

AFC Championship - Jacksonville Jaguars v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars are now officially beginning their offseason, which means we’ll start talking about the 2018 NFL Draft, free agency, who they re-sign and who they cut. One talking point that is likely going to dominate the conversation until they make a decision is the future of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles.

Naturally in Monday’s press conference Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone was asked about Bortles’ future and predictably the Jaguars head coach was non-committal one way or the other.

“That is a whole, [big]-picture again,” Marrone said on Monday when asked about Bortles future. “I would really have to take a step back and look at it. I don’t think I’m in the best mindset to talk about any of our players from that standpoint of what is going on. I’m happy for all of our players, I’m happy for all their contributions and what they have done. Now it’s a matter of taking a step back and giving myself some time and looking at things as a whole.”

It’s a pretty expected answer for Marrone and I’m sure the team probably knows what they’re going to do, it’s not really the right time to make that decision because everything is still so raw and so emotional. Plus, it’s something we’ll definitely beat to death in the coming weeks.

There was also the report by Adam Schefter of ESPN on Monday that the Jaguars would look to upgrade the quarterback position if possible, which is what they should absolutely look to do. On Tuesday morning on his local radio show, Jacksonville sportscaster Dan Hicken mentioned on 1010XL’s The Drill that the feeling he got after being in the Jaguars facility on Monday was that they would go window shopping for an upgrade at the quarterback position.

Good, that’s what the team should be doing, always looking for an upgrade wherever they can.

For me, I’d probably go hard after a more consistent quarterback who’s at worst average, but I understand the idea of wanting to bring back Blake Bortles for another season, considering what all he accomplished this year. He did show some growth even I’m willing to admit, though I’m still not sure he’s good enough to sustain going forward. I thought Sunday’s game was kind of the perfect encapsulation of Blake Bortles. He played well, but it ultimately wasn’t good enough. I’m sure that will be twisted into pinning the loss on him or hating or whatever, but that’s the best way I can articulate saying he played well while simultaneously showing why he needed to be replaced.

Bringing Bortles back in 2018 in a vacuum isn’t a bad idea. You can bring in competition and/or draft a quarterback to groom or compete with him. The sticking point is the price tag. Picking up the fifth-year option means you’re bringing back an average at best quarterback who is inconsistent (which is why I attach the “at best”) and making $19 million guaranteed. That’s $2-3 million less than the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Phillip Rivers.

If you’re spending that much on a quarterback, I personally think you should go try to get someone who’s floor is a consistent average quarterback. Consistency has always been the big issue and consistent quarterback play, even at an average level, is worth a lot more than people will give it credit.

If Bortles is back, there is no competition, even if you draft someone in the first round. He’s starting at least half the season, regardless of how bad he is. You don’t bench $19 million guaranteed. And for those asking, the fifth-year option isn’t something you can “restructure,” though you could sign him to a new deal with $19 million as the likely starting point. It’s also fully guaranteed if Bortles is on the roster at the start of the 2018 league year in March, per Article 7, Sec. 7, (ii), 31 of the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement:

The entire Paragraph 5 Salary for the Fifth-Year Option shall be guaranteed for injury-related termination only, effective upon the Club’s exercise of the Option. The entire Paragraph 5 Salary for the Fifth-Year Option shall be guaranteed for skill, injury, and Salary Cap-related termination if the player is on his Club’s Active/Inactive roster at the start of the player’s fifth League Year (i.e., the option year).

As I said, we’ll debate this ad nauseum as the weeks go on until a decision is made and then probably even more after one is made.