Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles now knows that the bar has been set with Andrew Luck’s six-year, $140 million contract that was just signed.
Now the third-year starter knows the bar has been raised and if he is to cash in as one of the NFL’s next $100 million men, he will have to step his game up.
Time to shine in Jacksonville
This means the interceptions that knocked him last season – 18 to be exact – and the cost his team potential victories, will have to be eliminated.
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This isn’t anything new. NFL quarterbacks, one by one, become the highest paid players with astronomical salaries, until the next big name sits down at the negotiation table.
It’s commonplace now but Bortles is new to the game, a neophyte who is still growing into becoming one of the better signal callers.
With next year’s deal still in place, how will the Jaguars slow play the inevitable?
According to NFL.com, the news is not a surprise, but the timing of it shows the extreme faith the Colts have in Luck.
He's coming off a down 2015 season plagued by injuries. Luck admitted he was playing poorly even before a shoulder injury forced him to miss two early starts - a lacerated kidney ended his season after Week 9.
A big task for Bortles
If the offensive line improves and cuts down on the 51 sacks from last season and the running game balances out, Bortles could be better in 2016, but his numbers could drop. It’s a double-edged sword this franchise is willing to play out.
Bortles connection with offensive coordinator Greg Olson paid off handsomely last season.
There will be added wrinkles to the offense, but for the most part, everything has remained the same as Bortles works on his chemistry with Julius Thomas and Marqise Lee.
Gregg Rosenthal explained this move was a smart one for the Colts, because of the importance of having Luck locked up for the future.
"Franchise quarterbacks are the most valuable commodity in sports and we'd argue they are all undervalued because of the salary cap. To put it another way: would you rather have one Andrew Luck or two Ryan Kerrigans? The Colts placed more importance on the first three extraordinary seasons of Luck's career far more than last season, as they should. Luck was sixth in the NFL in passing yards from 2012-2014."
The Jaguars will look at Luck’s deal and look at the market – with other quarterbacks lining up to negotiate new contracts.
The best thing Bortles can do is win, which will go a long way to helping his cause since Jacksonville knows it will have to negotiate a new deal with Bortles and his agent.
How much the young passer can claim from his current team depends on his 2016 season and his ceiling for success, which right now appears to be limitless.