The Jaguars waited nearly as long as they could to decide whether to pick up the fifth-year option on quarterback Blake Bortles’ contract. Some would say they made a mistake.
That argument arises from the fact that Jacksonville has now planted a $19.05 million flag in the ground for 2018, which becomes the baseline for any long-term talks that may occur after the coming season. So if the Jaguars want to sign Bortles in 2018, he should seek a full guarantee at signing in the amount of $19.05 million for the first year and a 20-percent raise for 2019 ($22.86 million), which would be the amount of the franchise tag that year. (The quarterback tag likely would be even higher.) That’s $41.91 million, at a minimum, over two years.
Alternatively, the Jaguars could have rolled the dice, allowing Bortles to enter a contract year with the franchise tag as the worst-case scenario for 2018. With the 2017 quarterback franchise tender at $21.26 million and assuming a $12 million increase in the $167 million salary cap, the 7.1-percent increase in the cap would increase the tender by 7.1 percent, to $22.78 million for 2018.
Thus, the Jaguars are putting $19.05 million at risk in order to potentially save $3.7 million.
And here’s the true nature of the risk. With the 2018 salary guaranteed for injury only until the first day of the 2018 league year in March, the money becomes fully guaranteed for Bortles if he ends the season with an injury that keeps him from passing a physical by the middle of March.
Potential savings arise for the team only if the Jaguars and Bortles end up doing the year-to-year Kirk Cousins dance. Picking up the option delays the 44-percent spike in the player’s salary until 2021. Without the extra year on the rookie deal, Bortles would be eligible for the gigantic increase in 2020.
To realize that potential savings, the Jaguars are embracing the possibility that they’ll be stuck with the $19.05 million salary in 2018, even if after one year of the Tom Coughlin/Doug Marrone regime they decide to move on.
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