Consequences of Blake Bortles’ contract depend on his 2019 destination

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It became clear the moment the Jaguars benched quarterback Blake Bortles that he won’t be back in 2019, the second season of the three-year, $54 million deal that he signed in the offseason. So what does this mean for the team that gave Bortles a $15 million signing bonus and another $11.5 million in fully-guaranteed payments?

Here’s what it means, in a nutshell. With $6.5 million of his $16 million salary in 2019 fully guaranteed, but with offset language attached to it, the Jaguars can cut Bortles and hope that someone else will sign him and pay him at least $6.5 million for next year.

It also means he’ll walk away with $20 million for one year of service.

So what would another team pay Bortles in 2019? Base salaries for veteran backup quarterbacks are currently varied. Bears backup Chase Daniel will make $6 million next year. Washington quarterback Colt McCoy will earn $3.5 million. Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer will pocket $2.8 million. Chiefs quarterback Chad Henne is on the books for $2.55 million.

Bortles likely won’t see $6.5 million, but every dollar he makes will reduce the Jackonsville financial obligation. That likewise will drop the cap charge associated with releasing him from $16.5 million, one dollar at a time up to the full $6.5 million.

The Jaguars also can nudge $5 million of the cap charge to 2020 by making Bortles a post-June 1 cut.

So the cap charge, in theory, could be as low as $5 million in 2019 and $5 million in 2020.

The fact that no team would likely pay Bortles $6.5 million in a year that had the Jaguars scheduled to pay Bortles $16 million underscores the blunder that was made when the contract was signed. Then again, and as raised at the time, what leverage did Bortles have to exert a contract worth $18 million per year in the first place? If he’d been cut by the Jaguars before the season, he would have gotten a lot less than $18 million per year. When he gets cut by the Jaguars after the season, he’ll get even less.

There’s another potential outcome to the Bortles imbroglio. The Jaguars could do a Brock Osweiler-style hot potato trade, sending a draft pick to another team to get it to absorb the contract and the $6.5 million guarantee that goes along with it. For any team that would even consider paying Bortles $6.5 million or close to it on the open market, it would make plenty more sense to call the Jaguars and coyly suggest pulling an Osweiler.

12 responses to “Consequences of Blake Bortles’ contract depend on his 2019 destination

  1. It wouldn’t shock me to see him have a long career as a backup. Yes, he’s been terrible, but he’s also had enough occasional good games to convince teams he’s worth a look. He could be the next Ryan Fitzpatrick! And I don’t mean that as an insult.

  2. I think he’s reached the end of the line.

    He doesn’t a give a team any more than you might expect to find with a rookie, they’d be way cheaper and would have, at least in theory, a much higher ceiling.

    I think he’ll be starting for either an AAF or XFL team next.

  3. Trade with the 49ers.
    Jags get a 3rd round pick and Nick Mullens.
    The Niners get Bortles, his contract, and Jaylen Ramsey.

    The Niners would then drop Bortles and basically be trading a 3rd and Mullens for Ramsey and 6.5millon in cap space.

  4. Unless Bortles can get more than $6.5M, there is no reason for him to ask for (or be offered) anything more than the veteran minimum. He gets paid either way, just from the Jaguars or his new team, so it makes sense for the new team to not want to be the one to pay him. Also, couldn’t a team sign him to a two-year deal, in which he gets the vet minimum for year one and then a decent salary for year two? That way he gets something for the longer term, without the new team offsetting much of anything from the Jaguars.

  5. I wouldn’t give up anything for Bortles, let the Jags cut him, and sign him to a lower contract.
    He’s not very good.
    UNless you are a strong team, why pay a backup 6.5MM?

    The Jags should cut him. Bortles should ask for a small amount, the veterans minimum, so he’ll be more appealing to teams. He’ll be more likely to end up where he prefers.

  6. Someone in the Jags front office needs to be fired. Whoever made the decision to sign Bortles to that contract has no business running a team. Ruining a team yes, running a team no way.

  7. Hmmm…$6.5M of 2019 is guaranteed so they’d take a cap hit of $6.5M if they get rid of it. If they get rid of it as a post-June 1 cut they can push $5M to 2020. I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but if they cut it as a post-June 1 cut how can the cap charge be $5M in 2019 and $5M in 2020? Where did the other $3.5M come from. Maybe they are using government math that adds 35% to the cost of everything.

  8. Am I missing something here? I looked up the 5th year option on the salary for a QB picked inside the top 10 and it said it was over $20mil for 2018 so by signing Bortles the Jags actually saved a little money over using the 5th year option!

    I know, I know he’s not very good but neither are about 15 other NFL QBs and $16-$20mil seems to be the going price for a not very good QB in the NFL now days. Not every team can afford a Rodgers and there isn’t enough Rodgers, Brees, Brady and Wilson’s for every team to have one.

    But if you think it’s bad now just wait a few years until Brady, Brees, Rivers and Big Ben join Palmer in retirement, the level of QB play is going to go off a cliff because there isn’t nearly enough good/great QBs coming out to fill the void that will be left, but that won’t stop the pay from continuing to go through the roof! So 3-5yrs from now people will be crying for a Bortles/ Mariota/Winston type average QB and willing to give $30mil/yr for them, just wait and see a few years from now $150mil/5yr deals will be the average for average QBs!!!

    And in case anyone missed it the NFL isn’t exactly over-flowing with good/great QBs now, average and below average seems to be the category that the vast majority fit into now days, so like I always say “then who you going to get”? That seems to be the question not many people ask themselves. I think the NFL is in for some very rough times at QB for the next 5-10yrs unless we have at least 2 drafts real soon like the 1983 or 2004 drafts did and I don’t see that happening!

    Just sayin’

  9. @whenwilliteverend . Here’s the math. $6.5MM of Bortles salary in 2019 is guaranteed. On top of that, there is still $10MM in bonus money from his contract extension last year that hasn’t hit the cap yet, which cannot be erased. If they cut him before June 1 all $10MM hits the cap in 2019. If it’s after June 1, then the cap hit is split between ’19 and ’20. The $6.5MM can be erased if someone signs him that much, or more, next year. But that’s not likely. Realistically, the Jags could hope to erase half of that guaranteed salary obligation. Which would make Bortles about a $13MM drag on their cap. Cutting Bortles will save them at least $4MM against the cap (because he’s due to cost $21MM next year if they keep him). But still, they’re already looking at being $7MM over the cap next year as it stands–$3MM if they cut Bortles before June 1. The “but” is that they’d still need to bring in a quarterback–can they really afford a Joe Flacco or Teddy Bridgewater? The answer is no, so you’re looking at blowing up that defense and starting over with a rookie QB in a thin QB draft year.

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