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Jaguars wanted to sign Kirk Cousins in free agency, were ‘unwilling’ to pay high price tag

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars reportedly had Kirk Cousins as their top target to fix the quarterback position this past offseason but were “unwilling” to pay what it would take to get him here.

That’s according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, who said the Jaguars were ready to pay somewhere “in the range of the $20 million to $24 million” but when his price tag went up to closer to $30 million per year they backed out.

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ decision to extend embattled starting quarterback Blake Bortles after the 2017 season came only after the team did extensive research on a possible signing of Kirk Cousins, league sources said, but they balked at the strength of that market. The Jaguars were fully prepared to offer Cousins a significant free-agent contract and move on from Bortles but were unwilling to spend close to where other teams were.

The Jaguars brass viewed Cousins as the best opportunity to upgrade at quarterback, the sources said, and were hopeful of being able to secure the free agent’s services in the range of the $20M-$24M he had been earning on the franchise tag with the Redskins. However, it became clear as they did their due diligence on the quarterback’s market that the competition for his services was going to be extremely stiff, with the Vikings, Jets, Cardinals and Broncos all serious about signing him. Before the Super Bowl it was clear that, with Alex Smith earning $27M a year on an extension with Washington after his trade there, and with numerous media reports indicating Cousins was going to earn upwards of $90M fully guaranteed, the Jaguars had a decision to make.

They were either going to have to entertain a deal worth close to $30M a year to have a chance to land Cousins, or continue to move forward with Bortles at around $18M a year, which he was in line for on the fifth-year option. It was then that they went ahead and finalized a pay-as-you-go, team-friendly extension with Bortles, who has been one of the NFL’s least productive and least effective starting quarterbacks since he entered the league in 2014. Bortles came at a drastically lower price tag in terms of annual salary and guarantees than Cousins. Bortles, who was benched at halftime of last week’s loss and has been struggling mightily since Week 3, could be released as soon as 2019 for a significant cash savings and designated as a post-June 1 cut to mitigate his dead cap.

Cousins went on to sign a three-year, $84 million deal with the Vikings.

So, instead of going from $24 million to $28 million per year, we saved some money to trot Bortles out there who is having the worst season of his career, suffering a benching for the first time in his career during a Week 7 matchup against the Houston Texans at home last week.

Meanwhile, Cousins has 14 touchdowns and three interceptions through seven games and averages 7.2 yards per attempt and over 300 yards per game for the NFC North leading Minnesota Vikings.

Go Jaguars.