In a long overdue move, the Jaguars finally terminated the Blake Bortles era by releasing their former first-round pick on Wednesday as they move forward with new quarterback Nick Foles. The move wasn’t just long overdue. It was also a year or two too late. 

Just a year ago, the Jaguars had an opportunity to move on from Bortles. Instead, they handed him a contract extension that tied him to the team through the 2020 season. As a result, the Jaguars are now being forced to eat $16.5 million in dead cap this year, according to Spotrac. Only Antonio Browntraded from the Steelers to the Raiders — has a higher dead cap hit than Bortles.

It was a clear and obvious mistake, but the Jaguars aren’t wiling to admit it. On Thursday, both executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin and general manager David Caldwell said that they do not regret giving Bortles that extension a year ago.

Let’s travel back in time to February 2018, when news of the extension broke, and examine the information the Jaguars were working with when they decided to extend Bortles. In doing so, it’ll become evident that criticizing the Jaguars for their decision isn’t just a case of hindsight being 20/20. Even at the time, it was plainly clear that the Jaguars would likely come to regret their decision.

At the time, the Jaguars were a month removed from a playoff run that peaked when they held a 10-point lead over the Patriots with less than a quarter remaining in the AFC Championship Game and ended when Tom Brady Tombradyed them with two late touchdowns. During the final two games of that playoff run, Bortles played the best football of his career. Against the Steelers and Patriots, Bortles completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 507 yards, two touchdowns, and no picks. Based on those two games alone, Bortles deserved another chance to quarterback the Jaguars.  

Based on the previous four regular seasons, Bortles did not deserve another chance to quarterback a team that fancied themselves contenders heading into the 2019 season. From 2014-17, Bortles started 61 games. The Jaguars won 21 of them. In his 62 total appearances in that span, Bortles completed 59.1 percent of his passes, averaged 6.7 yards per attempt, threw 90 touchdowns and 64 interceptions, and posted an 80.8 passer rating. No quarterback threw more interceptions in that span. 

The Jaguars overlooked those four seasons and focused on his two playoff starts (which came after an 87-yard passing day against the Bills in the wild-card round, by the way), and gave him an extension because he played well in two playoff games instead of trying to upgrade at quarterback after four subpar seasons from Bortles. 

The Jaguars could’ve gone after Kirk Cousins. They could’ve gone after a cheaper option in Teddy Bridgewater. They stuck with Bortles instead. To no one’s surprise, Bortles proceeded to submit a very Bortles stat line (he got benched for Cody Kessler at one point) as the Jaguars stumbled to a 5-11 finish. 

As a reminder, the Jaguars also could’ve moved on from Bortles before the 2017 season by drafting either Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson with the fourth-overall pick. Instead, they selected running back Leonard Fournette, who is averaging 3.7 yards per carry through two seasons. 

Now, the Jaguars are applying the same faulty logic they used with the Bortles extension to the Foles signing by giving Foles a four-year, $88 million deal all because two seasons ago, he led the Eagles to a championship with two incredible performances in the playoffs and this past season, he guided the Eagles to the playoffs with four good performances in December. 

What could go wrong?



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