The good news for the Jaguars is that they’ve made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. The bad news is that making it to the playoffs extends a significant financial risk that the team has carried for 16 games, and counting.
Quarterback Blake Bortles is under contract for 2018, at a salary of more than $19 million. The contract currently is guaranteed for injury; as of the first day of the 2018 league year, it becomes fully guaranteed.
This means, as a practical matter, that if Bortles has any injury that keeps him from passing a physical before the start of the next league year, he will be entitled to the full $19 million, because the Jaguars won’t be able to cut him until he’s healthy.
So at this point it’s not just a serious injury that would tie Bortles to the Jaguars for 2018. It simply needs to be a two-month injury that isn’t healed by the first day of the league year, and he’s on the payroll for $19 million for one more year.
It’s a small price to pay for making it to the playoffs, but it’s a very real factor that could keep the Jaguars from moving on from Bortles after the season if, based on his full performance in 2017 (and/or a bad showing on the first weekend of 2018), they decide they can’t justify paying him $19 million for 2018.