The Jacksonville Jaguars have decided to stay the course with their quarterback situation, signing Blake Bortles to a three-year contract extension, the team announced Saturday.
Bortles will be paid $54 million - $26.5 million guaranteed - but can make up to $66.5 million throughout the duration of the contract with incentives. He was due to make $19.053 million in 2018 after the team picked up his fifth-year option last May, but will now remain with the club through the 2020 campaign.
The news comes as somewhat of a surprise, as the Jaguars were rumored to be interested in a few potential free agent quarterbacks, including Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum, and Sam Bradford, among others. Bortles is elated the team decided not to pursue other options.
"I told Ryan [Tollner], my agent, let's just get it done so I can just go play football. I really would love to just know and have confirmation that this is where I'm going to be, and now let's go work and continue to build on what we did last year and go play," Bortles said. "So, happy and relieved. Obviously extremely excited. It's a dream come true to be able to sign a second contract by the team that drafted me. That was one of my goals from the start so excited to get it all done and get rolling now."
The Jaguars, led by Bortles, went 10-6 and won the AFC South last season. It was the franchise's first division title since 1999, and although Jacksonville came up short of a Super Bowl bid after a heartbreaking loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC title game, team management is banking on Bortles to step his game up.
"Blake's growth and development last season was a key to the success we had as a team," executive vice president of football operations, Tom Coughlin, said in a statement. "Blake has proven, with toughness and dependability, that he can be the leader this team needs going forward. Along with this contract come high expectations that he will continue to improve and help our team accomplish its ultimate goal."
Many Jaguars fans and beat writers disagree with management's decision, though, and are strongly opposing the extension, stating the team needs an upgrade at quarterback in order to claim a Super Bowl title.
Bortles, had he decided to play out the final season on his old deal and then test free agency, likely left a significant amount of money on the table by signing this very reasonable extension. Loyalty, though, is extremely important to him.
“Everybody dreams of making $100 million and the quarterbacks are expected to sign that big deal,” Bortles added. “That was never something that was very important to me. Signing a second deal with the team that drafted me was my goal from the beginning. It’s been done and I’m excited.
Bortles has completed 59.1 percent of his passes for 14,928 yards and 90 touchdowns with 64 interceptions in four seasons with the Jaguars. He is 21-40 as a starter.
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