What the Jacksonville Jaguars Should Do About Their Blake Bortles Problem?
Things have gone from bad to worse in Jacksonville. A would-be title contender, the Jaguars seem to be poised for a playoff run with talent loading both sides of the football.
The problem? Blake Bortles is still their quarterback.
The once highly touted prospect has regressed over the past two years, as he drowned in a sea of turnovers in 2016 and continued his struggled into training camp.
Bortles wouldn’t find life to be any easier when the Jaguars played their first preseason game a week ago, while their second preseason contest showed even further regression.
With the Jaguars openly considering benching Bortles and confiding in veteran backup signal caller Chad Henne, all options seem to be on the table.
Some beat writers even seem to think flat outing cutting Bortles is a realistic choice the Jags could turn to.
That might not be the worst idea, especially consider Jacksonville currently has just two other options: play Bortles and deal with the turnovers and horrible inaccuracy, or bench him and watch their franchise passer wilt away.
The first option doesn’t feel like an option at this point. The Jaguars have a stacked defense and loads of offensive talent, so they’re in win-now mode. Benching Bortles in theory makes sense, as his contract for next season is only guaranteed in the event of an injury.
Ultimately, what would make the most sense is a flat out release or trade. From there, the Jags could give Henne a real run at claiming the starting job, swinging a trade for an upgrade or bringing in some free agents to compete over the final two weeks of preseason play.
Jacksonville’s 5 Best Bets
Keeping Bortles is going to do more harm than good. Jacksonville might still do that just because they owe him money and previously invested so much time into developing him, but they’re beating a dead horse here.
Benching Bortles keeps that stink around and only delays the inevitable. Besides, if Henne falters or gets hurt, they’d be lured into going back to Bortles, only to be disappointed and/or hit with contractual obligations in the event of an injury.
None of that sounds any good, so a release or trade is likely ideal.
Believe it or not, there are a lot of options out there for the Jaguars to consider. They’re not all amazing, but in their own way they all make sense:
Trade For Someone
I won’t run through all of the quarterbacks the Jaguars could trade for. One, because there are a lot of viable options and secondly, because I’m not so sure another long-term commitment that involves draft picks and the like is such a great idea.
That being said, the following quarterbacks could potentially be gotten for the right price:
- Alex Smith (Chiefs)
- Tyrod Taylor (Bills)
- J. McCarron (Bengals)
- Brock Osweiler (Browns)
- Jimmy Garoppolo (Patriots)
- Trevor Siemian (Broncos)
- Brett Hundley (Packers)
I almost tossed Blaine Gabbert in there as a cruel joke.
In Kansas City, Smith has gradually worn out his welcome. He’s solid and steady, but he lacks upside. He can get the Jags to the playoffs, but it’s fair to assume they won’t make much noise.
The Chiefs learned that the hard way and aimed a little higher this year in the draft by selecting Patrick Mahomes. While probably true, the Jags might not mind kicking the tires on Smith.
The Bills also seem to have soured greatly on Taylor, who no longer feels like a fit with their offense. Most people were on the fence with him, anyways, so Buffalo moving on wouldn’t be shocking. While he’s not the savior Jaguars fans want, he sure is better than Bortles.
Osweiler is a half-serious addition. Cleveland doesn’t really want him and Denver and Houston sure didn’t. He’s not good, but he might be a mild upgrade.
Siemian might be a few steps above Osweiler. He won’t lose many games, but he won’t win many on his own, either. He was passable as a starter last year and while he’s no franchise quarterback, he could help the Jags make a playoff push.
McCarron, Hundley and Jimmy G would take a lot of trade ammo to nab. All three of these guys are forever stuck behind strong-to-elite passers in Andy Dalton, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, though. They’re all getting traded eventually, so why not now?
Pay Tony Romo All of the Money
If you can’t trade for a stop-gap or potential franchise guy, just go get the best one available.
I doubt Tony Romo envisioned the Jaguars being his best route to a title, but there is a lot of talent here and it could be fun to be looked at as the savior. Romo has a comfortable job at CBS and he’s said he’s not coming out of retirement, but Jay Cutler said something similar and we all know how things went down with Brett Favre.
They just drafted a stud running back in Leonard Fournette, they have a plethora of fun weapons in the passing game and their defense is ready to crush some skulls. If he buys in that this team can make a Super Bowl run, this could be a massive signing.
Tim Tebow hasn’t played a meaningful NFL down in years and he’s a 29-year old minor league baseball player these days. But would ol’ Teebs really pass up an opportunity to go play for his hometown team? I sincerely doubt it.
Nobody is saying Tebow is a competent NFL passer or that he’s even for sure better than Bortles, but it’d be difficult to be much worse. At least by bringing on Tebow the Jags know they’d be selling tickets and cratering their season to nab their next franchise passer in next year’s draft.
No, it’s probably not happening. Okay, it’s definitely not happening. But as far as crazy narratives go, this one is about as entertaining as it gets.
Give Colin Kaepernick a Job
The whole Colin Kaepernick debate is weird. On one hand, he was really good and got the 49ers to two NFC title games and a 4th down play from a championship. He also has made himself a bit of a pariah by taking on the country’s racial and political issues with a public stand.
So, yeah, on the surface, Kaepernick hates ‘Merica and isn’t good at football, so I get why a lot of people believe he should remain jobless.
Unfortunately, it’s not that black and white. Nothing is, but the reality is Kaepernick is certainly capable of being one of the best backups in the league. He can probably start for a handful of bad teams – including the Jags – as well.
Kaepernick also gets a lot of heat for taking a stand, but it’s not like he’s flat out saying he hates police or the government, etc. He’s just trying to do some good with his platform. I get that people don’t agree with that, but considering he is no longer alone in this plight (Chris Long, among others, has followed suit), it’s probably not totally fair to continue to blackball the guy.
Would signing Kaepernick ensure the Jags make the playoffs or run to the Super Bowl? No, but he literally is an upgrade over Blake Bortles and if he’s their only real option, they should go for it.
Johnny Manziel partied his way out of football, had a domestic violence case against him and pretty much burned every bridge possible on his way out of the league. He’s probably done, but he’s also just 24 years old still and has a lot of untapped talent.
Much like Kaepernick, people freely trash Manziel because they don’t like him as a personality or don’t agree with how he lives life. The good news is Manziel seems to realize his past errors and is trying to head down a better path.
If we’re to believe that, Manziel to the Jaguars is not just a nice story, but potentially an amazing move for the franchise. How crazy would it be that the Jags drafted Bortles over Manziel back in 2014, and all this time later they swap the two players?
Manziel didn’t play a whole lot in Cleveland, but even with an inferior roster he showed better accuracy and was gradually displaying a knack for the deep ball. Manziel could actually fit Jacksonville’s system pretty well and would be a fun comeback story to monitor.
Would that translate to the Jags winning all of the games in 2017? That’s hard to say, but I do think Manziel gives them a better shot than Bortles or Henne. Besides, if Manziel is even halfway decent, Jacksonville is inheriting a fun project to mold going forward.
Betting on the Jaguars
Trading for a young prospect like Garoppolo would be awesome, but the next best bets are talking Romo into a comeback or handing Kaepernick a contract.
Pretty much all of these options could help the Jags, though, as their situation at the moment looks quite dire.
When we get down to what really matters, what we really want to know is if any of these options actually impacts Jacksonville’s Super Bowl odds.
What might make more sense is Jacksonville biting the bullet and hoping for another lost season. The 2018 NFL Draft quarterback class is quite loaded, after all.