The Jacksonville Jaguars are more likely than not going to move on from quarterback Blake Bortles in 2019, according to a recent report by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
From Up to the Minute Live: The #Jaguars will have an offseason of some change, and that includes the QB position. They are set to move on from QB Blake Bortles. pic.twitter.com/ThAZcoQl2q— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 7, 2018
The news isn’t all that surprising as I wrote about two weeks ago when Bortles was benched for backup Cody Kessler. Once that move was made to send him to the bench, the Jaguars were in essence pulling the plug on the Bortles era.
The real question will be how they handle dealing with the three-year, $54 million contract that Bortles signed this past offseason. The deal included $26.5 million guaranteed with a $15 million signing bonus. Bortles cap hit for 2019 would be $21 million, so a trade seems highly unlikely unless you’re willing to give up a premium draft pick like the Houston Texasn did with the Brock Osweiler deal. The Jaguars could be trading up for a quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft, another reason it seems unlikely.
More realistically the Jaguars will cut Bortles after the season and just absorb the cap hit. There are two ways they could go about it, each with its perks. First, the team could just outright cut him and take the $16.5 million dead money cap hit all at once in 2019. This would free up $4.5 million in cap room and the deal also includes up to $6.5 million in off-set language. What that means is that if Bortles signs a deal with another team for $6.5 million, the Jaguars save an additional $6.5 million. If he signs for more than that the Jaguars would save up to $6.5 million.
The other option would be to designate Bortles a post-June 1 cut, which would split the dead money between the 2019 and 2020 salary cap. Doing so would save the Jaguars an additional $5 million in cap savings, but the catch is that cap savings would not reflect until after June 1, which is well after the first two waves of NFL Free Agency and the NFL Draft. If you’re not planning on doing much in free agency that’s fine, but you’re also just pushing dead money out to the future.
The best option for the Jaguars is to just rip the band-aid off and get it over with, dealing with the dead money all in 2019. That clears it all up by the next season and you’re ready to go again, presumably with a quarterback on their rookie contract.