Blake Bortles Cut by Jaguars After Nick Foles Signs 4-Year, $88 Million Contract

Paul KasabianSenior Contributor

BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 25: Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars warms up before the start of NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on November 25, 2018 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars released quarterback Blake Bortles on Wednesday, the team announced.

Bortles' tenure with Jacksonville all but ended when the Jaguars officially signed former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles to a deal.

Foles agreed to a four-year, $88 million contract, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo. The contract has $50.125 million in guaranteed money, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The release marks the official conclusion of the 26-year-old's five-year career with a Jags team that experienced the high of a near-Super Bowl appearance in 2017 and the low of two 3-13 seasons in 2014 and 2016 during the signal-caller's era.

Although 2018 didn't represent the true win nadir of the Bortles era, it was certainly the most disappointing season. With sky-high expectations following a close 24-20 loss to the New England Patriots in the 2017 AFC Championship Game, the 2018 Jaguars collapsed and finished 5-11.

The UCF product, who had a pedestrian 2018 stat line of 13 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, a 60.3 completion rate and 6.7 yards per pass attempt, was twice benched for Cody Kessler. Given the brutal nature of the 2018 season, a change needed to be made.

While the team went just 24-49 with Bortles under center, it's unfair to place too much blame on his shoulders for the team's mostly lackluster performance since 2014.

He had three offensive coordinators in his first three seasons, which didn't help his development. Nor did the fact he took a league-leading 55 sacks in 2014 and 51 more in 2015.

Furthermore, a tremendous amount of pressure was placed on Bortles right away. The Jags defense wilted and allowed the seventh-most points in the league during his rookie year, so any hope for winning games was on his shoulders.

That didn't happen much as the team went 3-13, but the Jags defense got worse (last in 2015 scoring defense) before getting better (25th in 2016, 2nd in 2017, 4th in 2018).

Bortles did show his potential at times, such as when he completed 72.4 percent of his passes for 326 yards and three scores against the Houston Texans in 2017.

However, he was often turnover-prone, as he most notably led the league in interceptions and fumbles in 2015. Football Outsiders also doesn't take kindly to his overall body of work, as he finished with a positive DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) just once in five seasons.

Bortles finishes his Jaguars tenure with 103 touchdowns, 75 interceptions, a 59.3 completion rate and 6.7 yards per pass attempt.

The 6'5", 235-pound quarterback will have to ply his trade elsewhere for next season, but from the Jags' perspective, they needed to dig out of some salary-cap problems after giving Bortles a three-year contract extension in February 2018 that gave him $26.5 million guaranteed and would have been worth up to $66.5 million including incentives. 

The release doesn't give the Jags much cap relief, as Over The Cap has the Jags on the hook for $16.5 million in dead money in 2019 and $5 million in 2020.

Still, the Jags need to move into a fresh era.


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