Barring injury, Blake Bortles has probably played his last down for the Jacksonville Jaguars as the starting quarterback. Head coach Doug Marrone announced on Monday that Cody Kessler would be the starting quarterback against the Indianapolis Colts and I’d have to think that outside of a Nathan Peterman level performance, Kessler will likely be the Jaguars starting quarterback for the remainder of the season.
That means that Bortles’ Jaguars career would effectively be over and done with.
With the team making the move now to bench Bortles, for the second time this season, as the actual starter it means they no longer view him as a long term viable option at the position, regardless of the contract or cap hit that he has. The Jaguars gave Bortles a three-year extension last offseason, as the team was as Tom Coughlin put it “a whistle away” from the Super Bowl. The team gave Bortles a three-year, $54 million deal with $26.5 million guaranteed, including a $15 million signing bonus.
The biggest question now is what do the Jaguars do with Bortles and can they get out of his contract? Can they afford to simply cut him? More or less, yes, they can. The Jaguars are going to have to make some decisions on the defensive line next season, but they can clear a lot of cap room very quickly which will afford them the ability to eat the dead money from Bortles’ contract, especially if they plan on picking a quarterback in the first round.
If the team moves on from Bortles by straight up releasing him this offseason, they’ll save $4.5 million on the cap but also have to eat $16.5 million in dead money. They can off-set that by designating Bortles a post-June 1 cut, making the total cap savings $9.5 million and the dead money $11.5 million in 2019 and $5 million in 2020, but they don’t get that extra cap space until after June 1, which is well after the NFL Draft and free agency.
The Bortles era however, is over. It was a wild roller coaster ride of an era, to be perfectly honest. It sucks that Blake was not successful, because he seems like a genuine “one of us” kind of guys and he always busted his ass. I will never ever fault Bortles for that, he was a gamer and always tried his hardest and never backed away from the music. He simply just wasn’t good enough when you boil it all down. He needed perfect situations to function and as soon as things went awry, you could see the downturn coming.
The 2015 season, even though they got their face pushed in a lot, will always be fun. The Jaguars had a quarterback who was second in the NFL in touchdown passes. How insane is that? I don’t care that a lot of them were meaningless garbage touchdowns, they were still touchdowns and 35 touchdowns is still 35 touchdowns. The 2017 season will always be magical. Everything aligned. When Blake had his Blake games, the defense drug him to wins. When the defense had some struggles, Blake played with a horseshoe up his ass and put up points. He went toe-to-toe with the Steelers in Pittsburgh in the playoffs and was a drive away from putting the team in the Super Bowl against the Patriots in Foxboro.
Dave Caldwell and the like gambled big on being able to repeat 2017 and it blew up in their face, spectacularly.
While the Bortles era certainly wasn’t good, it was very fun for some big chunks of it and I think Blake as a person, because of his personality, will always be remembered fondly.