The Jaguars surprised some people when they picked up the $19 million option on Blake Bortles for the 2018 season. But General Manager Dave Caldwell says the deal made sense.
Caldwell said on PFT Live that in today’s NFL, $19 million is really not a lot of money for a quarterback. And if Bortles has a breakout season in 2017, paying him $19 million in 2018 would be a bargain relative to what they would have to pay him if they put the franchise tender on him.
“I think that slots him as the 16th highest quarterback next year, right around the median,” Caldwell said. “If he was to get the franchise tender that puts him at the third or fourth or fifth ranked quarterback depending on who gets new deals next year.”
Knowing the Jaguars won’t have to use the franchise tag on Bortles also frees them up to use it on another player, such as receiver Allen Robinson, who was the Jaguars’ second-round pick the year they took Bortles in the first round and whose rookie contract is up after this season.
As Bortles is still in the fourth year of his rookie contract, the Jaguars are still getting him at a much more affordable price than most teams are paying for their starting quarterbacks.
“We look at two-year values on our contracts,” Caldwell said. “I think this year he’s scheduled to make about $3.2 million in cash, and then the $19 million next year is just a little over $22 million, it’s a two-year, $11 million average on what is considered a new deal, and that puts him not in the Top 16 of quarterbacks.”
The down side is that if Bortles gets hurt this year and can’t pass a physical in 2018, the Jaguars are on the hook for that $19 million salary. But the Jaguars are willing to take that risk.
“We take on the injury risk, but we look at the value total of the deal and we feel comfortable about the financials of it,” Caldwell said.
Only time will tell whether the Jaguars still feel comfortable about having Bortles as their quarterback in eight months.