In not much more than a month, the Jaguars will have to exercise, or not exercise, the fifth-year option on quarterback Blake Bortles contract. As of three weeks ago, the Jaguars were undecided.
There’s not much more that can be done between now and May 3 to help them make up their minds. What they see, or don’t see, from Bortles in the early stages of the offseason program will surely be a factor.
Toward that end, Bortles has been working on his own to improve his overall quarterbacking skills with quarterback gurus Tom House and Adam Dedeaux in California.
“I really enjoyed the time I spent out there, I think it’s really been beneficial,” Bortles said, via First Coast News. “I feel really good as far as where I’m at mechanically, and how the ball’s coming out and how it’s spinning and all that. So I think it’s been good. I was excited. I’m going to head back out next week for another two weeks or whatever and then I’ll be back in [Jacksonville].”
Last year, the Jaguars didn’t exercise the fifth-year option on 2013 first-round tackle Luke Joeckel. If they pick up the Bortles option, he’d have a 2018 salary of roughly $18 million guaranteed for injury. Though the money wouldn’t become fully guaranteed until March of next year, any injury that keeps Bortles from passing a physical before then would put the team on the hook for the full amount.
Not exercising the option would thrust Bortles into a contract year, which would give Bortles extra incentive to reach his potential. If he does, the Jaguars could end up paying roughly $22 million to keep him around under the franchise tag.
All things considered, the better play may be to give Bortles the incentive that comes from having a contract year, fully prepared to do whatever they have to do to keep him around if in Year Four he becomes the guy they thought he was going to be when they drafted him.