Blake Bortles knew he belonged with Rams, even if it meant being a backup
The specter of becoming Jared Goff’s backup did not faze Blake Bortles.
If anything, it encouraged him to sign with Rams.
Bortles, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ starting quarterback the last five seasons, played against the Rams in coach Sean McVay’s first season in 2017, and he watched them advance to the Super Bowl last season. After the Jaguars released him, he was ready to reset and restart his career under McVay — and he said he did not need to visit the Rams’ facility to know that.
But at the insistence of his agent, he met this week with Rams assistants Zac Robinson and Shane Waldron, and then McVay. Then he called his agent and told him to get a deal done.
He signed a one-year contract.
“Being around McVay and learning what I can from him was huge for me,” Bortles said Thursday during a teleconference, adding, “It kind of just solidified the thought I had before I even showed up.… This is definitely a place I want to be and an organization I want to be a part of and be around these guys.”
Terms of Bortles’ contract were not released. But the No. 3 pick in the 2014 draft was owed $6.5 million by the Jaguars, so the Rams almost certainly got him for a bargain.
That was apparently fine with Bortles, who is looking forward to studying under McVay.
“Everybody kind of wants a piece of what he’s doing and wants to understand how he’s doing what he’s doing at the level he’s doing it at,” Bortles said.
Bortles was 24-49 as a starter. But he helped lead the Jaguars to the AFC title game against the New England Patriots in the 2017 season.
McVay cited Bortles’ experience in “big-time” games and his athleticism as two of the reasons for signing him.
“You’re talking about a year removed from a great game in the divisional round against Pittsburgh and right down to the wire in the AFC Championship against New England,” McVay said.
Rams general manager Les Snead said “the experience factor” contributed to the decision to sign Bortles.
“When you’re kind of in the phase that we are, we do want to continue winning and having a quarterback who’s been there, done that,” Snead said. “Definitely helps if you ever have to go to the bullpen.”
Bortles said he was looking forward to helping Goff, who shares the same representation firm. But he said he plans to become an NFL starter again.
“In order to do that, this is the best step,” he said. “And being here around McVay and helping Jared and kind of taking a year to do whatever I can to kind better myself.”
Snead said the Rams were “closing in on an internal deadline” and would “probably” make a decision by Friday about whether they will match an offer sheet that restricted free-agent running back Malcolm Brown signed with the Detroit Lions. The Rams put an original-round tender of just more than $2 million on Brown, who signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2015. Terms of the offer sheet have not been disclosed. If the Rams do not match the offer, they will receive no compensation for losing Brown….
Ted Rath, the Rams’ director of strength training and performance, remains on leave in the aftermath of being charged with three counts of misdemeanor sexual battery in January. Rath’s attorney last week entered a plea of not guilty in Ventura County Superior Court. “Those are things that we take very seriously,” McVay said, “but I think we want to make sure that we have an understanding of exactly what took place, what went on. But in the meantime he is going to be away from us.”
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein
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