NFL notes: Jaguars sign Blake Bortles to three-year, $54-million deal
Blake Bortles might not be the long-term answer in Jacksonville but he is the short-term starter at quarterback after the Jaguars signed him to a three-year, $54-million deal Saturday that will keep him under contract through the 2020 season. The deal includes $26.5 million guaranteed.
“I definitely was looking forward to the opportunity of this happening, and knowing that it was done and now in the rear-view mirror, we can move on and get back to just worrying about football and not having to deal with money and contracts and all that stuff,” Bortles said during a conference call with reporters.
“Either way, however this went, I don’t think it would have had a ton of effect on how I feel. Thrilled to be able to stay here and playing Jacksonville and fired up to continue to work with the guys that are here.”
The team announced the move one day after handing out two-year extensions to top executive Tom Coughlin, coach Doug Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell.
Re-signing the 25-year-old Bortles is an indication how the front office and coaching staff feel about their current roster: They want to keep as many pieces in place for another run at the Super Bowl.
The Jaguars (10-6) won the AFC South for the first time in team history and made the playoffs for the first time in a decade. They advanced to the AFC title game for the first time since 2000, losing to New England 24-20 after having a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Bortles showed signs of progress in his fourth year despite playing 19 games with a partially torn ligament in his right wrist that required surgery last month. He completed a career-high 60 percent of his passes for 3,687 yards, with 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
“Blake’s growth and development last season was a key to the success we had as a team,” 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.”
Extending Bortles should give the team more cap space heading into free agency. The Jags entered the day with about $20 million to spend in 2018. They freed up $3.6 million by cutting backup running back Chris Ivory on Friday and could gain $7 million more by parting ways with backup receiver Allen Hurns.
Former New York Jets linebacker David Harris, second on the team’s career tackles list, has retired after 11 NFL seasons. He spent his first 10 seasons with the Jets, who drafted him in the second round out of Michigan in 2007. Harris was surprisingly released by New York last June and signed to a two-year contract by AFC East rival New England a few weeks later. He appeared in just 10 regular-season games and he did not play in any postseason games. Harris had 1,260 tackles with the Jets, trailing only Kyle Clifton’s 1,471.
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