For the most part, the Friday Tom Coughlin process was quintessential Tom Coughlin. Direct. Candid but guarded, and candid about being guarded. On one of the first questions, however, Coughlin was asked a direct question and evaded it.
Asked whether he is committed to Blake Bortles as the team’s starting quarterback, Coughlin opted not to say “yes” or “no.” The end result was a convoluted way of saying, “Maybe.”
“There’s plenty of work for everybody to do, Blake included,” Coughlin told reporters. “To raise the game to a higher level, it takes all components as well. That’s why I mentioned the protection first of all. Being at the right place at the right time, the timing, taking care of the football, which is paramount to that position. There can be no way the ball is turned over to that extent. I think he’d be the first one to say that he has a lot of work to do, but we all have a lot of work to do; I’m going to put it that way.”
That’s a way of saying that if Bortles doesn’t do the work, Coughlin and company will find someone who will. Long before the Jaguars know whether Bortles can do the work, they’ll have to decide whether to exercise the option for the fifth year of his rookie deal, which will equate to the transition tag for quarterbacks in 2017 (i.e., 11.409 percent of the 2017 salary cap).
At a 2017 cap of $165 million, that’s $18.82 million guaranteed for injury for a fifth season with Bortles. Based on Coughlin’s convoluted answer to a straightforward question, it’s hardly a slam dunk that they’ll pick up the option on or before May 3.