The Blake Bortles era is over in Jacksonville.
It’s a decision that has to be made at this point to not only try and salvage a season that may already be lost, but more importantly, put some gauze on the bleeding of a ruptured locker room that is on the verge of splintering beyond repair.
Lots of yelling in Jaguars locker room. Yannick had to be separated from another teammate. Media pushed out of locker room seconds after doors opened. #Jaguars— Tyler Devitte (@1010XLTyler) October 21, 2018
The foundation for this malcontent is no secret. When the team goes down by even a field goal, it feels like an insurmountable lead and it deflates the entire stadium and melts the Twitter timeline. In his five years as Jaguars quarterback, Blake Bortles has never shown the ability to elevate his teammates, and quite frankly, his ineptitude has had the opposite effect as it has pulled his teammates down into his quicksand of inefficacy.
When you look around the league and see other quarterbacks like Andrew Luck leading come backs with the likes of Zach Pascal and Marcus Johnson catching the football behind a banged up offensive line, this only expands the microscope on Bortles and his flaws.
Not only does Bortles require a perfect supporting cast to resemble something that looks like an NFL quarterback, his incompetence has begun to permeate into the other side of the football. Just like the entire fan base feels overwhelmed when the Jaguars start to fell behind in the score line, so does the defense. In the words of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry, “that s*** is contagious.”
It’s one thing not to be able to elevate his teammates, but it’s quite another to gift the football to the other team on a routine basis.
Blake Bortles has the most INT (72) in the NFL over the last 5 seasons— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) October 21, 2018
The offense simplified itself and gave him a platform to retain his confidence that he mustered from his postseason run and concocted a West Coast recipe of short, high completion throws to try and hide his flaws. He’s spent copious amounts of his personal time to fix an elongated, unnatural release and wonky lower body mechanics only to see it regress to a beautiful disaster once the bullets start flying. It’s time to finally pull the plug on Blake being in Jacksonville for one reason and one reason alone.
Quite simply, he’s lost his teammates.
#Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey after the loss: "It is no secret what’s going on here right now. Ain’t nobody going to say it because we can’t, but it ain’t no secret what’s going on and it ain’t right right now."— Hays Carlyon (@HaysCarlyon) October 21, 2018
Make no mistake about it, Ramsey is saying what the entire team wants to say but can’t. They can’t go out and operate to the best of their ability when they know that Blake Bortles is going to muck it up. This is it. This is the final nail in the coffin.
It’s one thing to lose fans — that’s usually the first piece of the puzzle. It’s one thing to lose media support — that usually comes next. It’s another thing to lose support from your coaching staff. That happened today. But when you lose your teammates?
You can’t come back from that.
Not only should Blake Bortles not play another game for this franchise, but he shouldn’t even be in the locker room at this point.
The Jaguars’ front office needs to look in the mirror and admit that they made a huge mistake in re-signing a quarterback who is scheduled to carry a $21 million cap hit in 2019. It’s not so simple as to cut him, as his dead cap in doing so now would be $26.5 million and $16.5 million if you wait until after the season. What we are looking at is a scenario where the Jaguars take an L and trade away Bortles and his terrible deal.
This was an idea that I first saw presented on the timeline this week by our guy Dilla (@e_dilla), and it makes perfect sense to do with a team that I mentioned at the beginning of the article in the Cleveland Browns.
This is what I’m proposing — the Jaguars trade a 2019 second round pick and Blake Bortles to the Browns for Tyrod Taylor.
The deal makes sense for a myriad of reasons:
- The Jaguars open up that cap space to retain their defensive linemen for 2019 and get out of the bad Bortles contract. It can even open up space to re-sign solid role players like T.J. Yeldon and A.J. Cann.
- Tyrod Taylor is a conservative quarterback who can competently operate Nathaniel Hackett’s west coast offense at a high level and doesn’t turn the ball over.
- The page is turned in the locker room and the players have a new captain to rally around on an offense that is bereft of leadership. If you’ve seen Hard Knocks this year, you know Taylor is a born leader who works harder than anyone on the team.
- Cody Kessler could start this week in Wembley and the timing with the bye week afterwards is favorable for Taylor to have two weeks to learn the playbook and potentially be ready for the Colts in week ten.
- Taylor can compete for the starting spot in 2019 and even beyond as a steward of the offense while the Jaguars draft and groom a first round college quarterback, whether that is in this draft or 2020.
- The Browns get a second round draft pick to help continue building weapons around Baker Mayfield for a player who is scheduled to be a free agent next year. That’s one round higher than the highest possible compensatory pick, which would be third round.
- The Browns have the most cap space in the NFL ($55 million and even more by losing Taylor) and can easily absorb Bortles’ contract. They are projected to have over $80 million in 2019 and can easily eat Bortles’ dead cap when cutting him.
- The Browns already have a veteran backup quarterback in Drew Stanton in the event Baker Mayfield gets hurt, and hell, they can even keep Bortles as a a backup.
Additionally, there is precedent for a move like this in the NFL and the Browns specifically, as the Houston Texans traded away Brock Osweiler’s awful contract and a second rounder. Of course, this was done with the pre-John Dorsey regime when Sashi Brown was running the front office, but the Jaguars and Browns have become smitten as trade partners since Dorsey took over in their dealings for Cody Kessler and Carlos Hyde just this past week and can keep that pipeline flowing before the upcoming deadline at 4:00pm EST on October 30.
I know, trades are always tricky in the NFL, and advocating for them is usually wasted breath. With this being said, an arrangement like this would behoove both parties. Tyrod Taylor really wants to play again, and he’s likely not going to get that opportunity in Cleveland this season unless Mayfield gets hurt.
You can pound the table for a different player or debate compensation, but they have to do something to turn the page and help salvage a season that started with high expectations.
Unfortunately, it’s finally that time to untie the boat from his dock on the St. John’s and let him float away.