With the news that Blake Bortles would be benched in favor of backup Cody Kessler, conversations arose wondering whether the Jaguars would retain the underperforming quarterback for the 2019 season. The financial hit is $21 million if he remains on the roster, $16.5 million if they cut him. While the argument has been made his cap figure makes keeping him the fiscally responsible choice,
I have argued that Blake occupying a roster spot serves no purpose if he is not seen as a viable option moving forward, backup or otherwise. Eating dead money is not uncommon, case-in-point the $13.56 million hit to the Buffalo Bills courtesy of Marcel Dareus.
In his Wednesday “O-Zone” column, John Oehser shared the following observation regarding how he thinks the Jaguars might be approaching the roster value of Blake Bortles.
Marcus from Jacksonville
Assuming Bortles does not somehow reassume the starting job for 2019, what are the chances he is still on the roster as a backup? If they’re going to be paying him guaranteed money either way, doesn’t it make sense to keep him on the roster and at least get something in return for their money?
I would be surprised if Bortles is on the roster to start the 2019 season. Given his history, I can’t say I would be head-sewn-to-the-carpet surprised, but I would be surprised.
Coming from someone with inside access to the organization, the frankness of John’s response is very telling. It indicates there is a recognition that a watershed moment has occurred, and that it is best to move on from past mistakes.
But something Blake said in his Wednesday meeting with the press got me thinking. If/when the Jaguars draft a quarterback in 2019, is there roster value in his NFL experience as a starter?
Amidst his acceptance of the situation and the difficulty of Nathaniel Hacket getting fired, Blake gave high accolades to Chad Henne for the way he handled his benching.
“One thing I always thought was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen was how Chad handled going from being the starter to the backup and how he was able to maturely handle that and be there for me and do whatever I needed and help me out in anyway. Anytime I’m ever in that situation, I’ll look back on what he did and what I witnessed him do – be a professional and handle it the way you should. It’s a job. Our job is to be a professional and try to win football games.”
For all his flaws, Blake has consistently handled his job with Stoic resolve. It might be argued his maturity would help the next heir apparent better transition into the NFL life. How much different is learning behind a starting quarterback from learning the ropes from a seasoned backup? The obvious answer is sitting for a year instead of harsh on the job training, but is the mentoring that much different?
Where I once thought there was an easy decision, now I am not so sure. The difference between keeping and cutting Bortles is a mere $5 million. If Blake truly did learn how to be a professional in the face of adversity, and if he can be the Henne to the Jaguars next starting quarterback, maybe the cost savings in releasing Blake is actually not a value move.