The team announced the deal on its website: "Blake Bortles, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, signed his rookie contract with the team early Wednesday morning, a day before the end of the Jaguars’ on-field offseason program."
It’s awesome. It’s awesome to be able to kind of put this in the past. It’s a once in a lifetime thing, signing your first contract. It’s a cool feeling. ... In my mind, it has been done. I’ve been practicing and going about everything like it’s already happened.
Per Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union, the contract is four years in length, worth over $20 million and will net Bortles a $13,341,672 signing bonus.
O'Halloran is also reporting the contract is fully guaranteed:
Bortles, who was the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NFL draft, was the highest pick who had yet to sign his rookie deal.
Although Bortles was unsigned until Wednesday, he has been hard at work in an attempt to gain headway in the starting QB competition. Chad Henne, 28, is the incumbent starter, but it isn't outside the realm of possibility that the University of Central Florida product could usurp him down the road.
Bortles has been improving throughout the offseason program and is pleased with his progression thus far, according to O'Halloran:
Just learning, learning from the mistakes that I've made since the start of OTAs and learning from the things I've done right and how to improve on those. ... It's coming (along) really good, meeting every morning with (offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch) and having Chad (Henne), Ricky (Stanzi) and Stephen (Morris) to bounce stuff off of and then just getting the reps is obviously the best way for me to progress—be on the field, watch Chad do it and then get the opportunity for me to do it.
Although the signing of Bortles may have been the biggest remaining hurdle the Jaguars had to clear in terms of rookie contract negotiations, they aren't done yet. Per Michael DiRocco of ESPN NFL Nation, Jacksonville still has to sign second-round wide receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson:
DiRocco noted in March before the 2014 draft that Henne was named the team's starter, adding:
Bradley said on a Friday teleconference that he and general manager David Caldwell would prefer that a rookie quarterback -- whether he was taken in the third round or with the No. 3 pick in the first round -- sit behind Henne and develop instead of playing right away.
The fact that Bortles is locked up is certainly a positive, but he won't have much of a chance to thrive until he has his full allotment of weapons moving forward.
If nothing else, though, this assures that Bortles will be present for all of training camp, so he'll be in position to learn everything he needs to. Whether that leads to him being named the starter at some point in 2014 isn't certain.
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