Following a surprise season in which Jacksonville won the AFC South division title and secured a trip to the AFC championship, the Jaguars extended quarterback Blake Bortles’ contract. The three-year, $54 million deal has $26.5 million guaranteed and will keep Bortles on the roster through the 2020 season.
In 16 regular season starts, Bortles had a career-high 60.2 completion percentage and 84.7 passer rating. He threw for 3,687 yards and 21 passing touchdowns against a career-low 13 interceptions. This coupled with his postseason play gave the Jaguars “renewed confidence” in their quarterback.
Due to his inconsistency, most team success is attributed to the stellar defense. Despite this, general manager David Caldwell has made moves to add stability to the offense and is doubling down on his decision to give Bortles an extension. Here are the three names that will make the biggest difference for Bortles on offense:
Andrew Norwell, OG
The biggest move the Jaguars made was signing offensive guard Andrew Norwell. The deal was five-years, worth an NFL-record $66.5 million and had $30 million guaranteed. The undrafted, 315-pound lineman earned first-team All-Pro honors with the Carolina Panthers.
According to Pro Football Focus, Norwell did not allow a single sack or quarterback hit, the only player to do so. He will allow Bortles enough time to go through his progressions and help protect him in the pocket.
Marqise Lee, WR
After Allen Robinson signed with the Chicago Bears, the Jaguars made sure to re-sign Marqise Lee on a four-year, $38 million deal. The 26-year old was Jacksonville’s most targeted receiver last season, leading the team with 96 targets. He also posted 702 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games. Despite Lee having struggled with drops in the past, his chemistry with Bortles is invaluable.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE
Another notable addition was of former New York Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who signed a two-year deal worth $10 million. Seferian-Jenkins had a breakout season with the Jets, catching 50 receptions for 357 yards.
This move addressed Jacksonville’s greatest weakness on offense: the tight end position. ESPN reported that Jacksonville tight ends were targeted the third-fewest times in the league (79) last season. With the Jaguars’ Marcedes Lewis turning 34 prior to training camp, the position was not getting any stronger.
The Jaguars built their identity off of their defense and run game in 2017. Instead of remaining adamant to the formula responsible for their success, the front office has surrounded Bortles with offensive weapons and want to see improvement in his fifth season.
Even with reports of the Jaguars looking like to draft a quarterback in April, Bortles will remain the unquestioned starter. His performance next season will determine if the Jaguars are the same one-dimensional team on offense or if they are a true Super Bowl contenders.