The Jaguars did their due diligence, and they ultimately decided to do a deal with the guy they drafted four years ago. On the surface, it was nearly as surprising that the Jaguars signed Blake Bortles to a new three-year contract as it was when they made him the third overall pick in 2014.
On closer inspection, it’s a reasonable contract, at $18 million per year. More importantly, the duration is sufficiently short to give the team options in this draft, or the next.
Let’s say, for instance, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson is available at No. 29. The Jaguars could draft him and stash him, knowing that with the fifth-year option, they can keep him through 2022.
So maybe Jackson sits for a year. Maybe two. Maybe three, like Aaron Rodgers once did. Either way, the Jaguars will have a chance to let Jackson (or whoever they’d draft in that spot) develop slowly while Bortles tries to finish the job he unexpectedly started last year.
If the Jaguars don’t add a youngster in 2018, they can do it in 2019, when Bortles has only two years left on his contract.
However it plays out, the short-term nature and relatively low base value of the Bortles deal gives the Jaguars a way to balance the effort to win now against an opportunity to win later, all while leaving enough cash and cap space around to keep great young players with the team for years to come.