Even though $18 million per year is downright reasonable in comparison to other veteran starting quarterbacks, the Jaguars knew they needed to sell the decision to extend by three years their relationship with Blake Bortles. As a result, the quote sheet distributed by the team included remarks from three teammates, each of whom vouched for Bortles.
“I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Blake mature and progress for the past four years and the one thing that I admire the most about him is his attitude,” tight end Marcedes Lewis said. “He is an ultimate competitor and will do whatever he can to help the team win. That’s his only goal. He’s not worried about personal credit or accolades; his sole focus is on being a great leader and a great teammate and I am very excited for him and his family on a very well earned extension. I can’t wait to be back on the field with Blake and my other teammates in April.”
Added center Brandon Linder: “We’ve always trusted Blake and we’re excited that he’ll lead our offense for years to come. He’s one of the toughest guys I know and I’m confident that he’ll continue to make us better on a daily basis.”
“No. 5 is our guy,” defensive lineman Malik Jackson said. “He’s been through a lot and proved a lot last season. He’s the type of guy we want in our locker room and I look forward to having him back for many more years.”
Those men surely believe what they’re saying. The real question is whether and to what extent there may be other players on the team who quietly wonder what the Jaguars, so close to getting to the Super Bowl, are doing.
What they’re doing is making a business and football decision aimed at showing confidence and faith in the quarterback who got them close to the Super Bowl without spending significantly more money on the chance that a stranger to the locker room would constitute an immediate upgrade. And the Jaguars, after actively exploring all options, decided to stand pat with Bortles.
This will give the Jaguars the flexibility to pay other key players, and to hold the nucleus together for as long as possible. Which will allow them to compete for playoff berths and more for years to come.