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Getaway day: ‘I’d be thrilled to stay’

Posted Jan 22, 2018

QB Blake Bortles a day after the Jaguars’ 24-20 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game: 'I’ve enjoyed my four years here in Jacksonville and I would love to play here for as long as they will let me…'

JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars’ offseason officially began Monday.

For Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, that means doing a lot of what he did last offseason – and it also means speculation about his future.

Bortles, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, currently has one season remaining on his contract. The Jaguars last offseason exercised the option on the fifth season of his rookie contract, and that means he will be guaranteed $19.1 million if he is on the roster on the March 14 first day of the 2018 NFL League Year.

“I’ve enjoyed my four years here in Jacksonville and I would love to play here for as long as they will let me,” Bortles said a day after completing 23 of 36 passes for 293 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions in the Jaguars’ 24-20 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

“What they do and all of the decisions that are made are kind of outside of my control. I’d be thrilled to be able to stay here and play here, and hopefully that can happen.”

The Jaguars have the option of releasing Bortles before March 14, having him play 2018 under his current contract or re-signing him to a long-term deal. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone, as he did throughout the season, on Monday praised Bortles’ toughness and said “I don’t think he has anything to prove to me.”

Marrone said Monday wasn’t the time for big-picture, future issues.

“I’m sure that we’ll go through that within the next couple of days once we try to get our focus back into those types of things,” Marrone said. “You shift to this whole look, where you have to take everything in. I’m not prepared to do that. I know it’s my job and I have to do it. I’m not prepared to do that [on Monday], nor do I think any of our coaches are prepared to do that.”

Bortles completed a career-high 60.2 percent of his passes for 3,687 yards and 21 touchdowns with 13 interceptions this season in his first full season running offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s system.

“The floor rises,” Bortles said. “You don’t start from the bottom anymore. Guys have a foundation and have an understanding of what the concepts are. It allows you to get more dynamic and more specific in the things we can do and start teaching earlier.”

Bortles, who spent extensive time in California working with passing gurus Tom House and Adam Dedeaux in the 2015 and 2017 offseasons, said he will take that approach this offseason

“I’ll get ready and go out and start throwing in California with Adam and the guys out there, and try to be ready for next year,” he said.

Also around the Jaguars:

*Several Jaguars players are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on March 14, a list that includes wide receiver Marqise Lee, cornerback Aaron Colvin, middle linebacker Paul Posluszny and wide receiver Allen Robinson, safety Peyton Thompson, linebacker Lerentee McCray, offensive guard Patrick Omameh and backup quarterback Chad Henne. “I don’t know the future,” Colvin said. “I’ll just take it as it comes and do what I can to be prepared for next season regardless.” …

*Weak-side linebacker Telvin Smith lobbied for Colvin and Posluszny to be re-signed, saying “those are two guys that we have to bring back. I don’t even think that’s a question. We are not the same defense without those two guys.” …

*Smith on the mindset of future players to join the Jaguars: “If they don’t have a different mindset, then you better not show up here. It’s obvious you have to have a different breed about yourself to walk around in this locker room. The swagger will literally get you out of here if you’re not ready to be a part of this.” …

*Defensive end Calais Campbell on if it will be easier to maintain the team’s culture now that it has made the postseason: “Easy is not the word you’re looking for here. What it is, there’s an understanding. You understand what it takes, so that mindset … you kind of already know going forward. It’s going to be hard work. That’s what got us here. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. Hard work is what made the difference. We know that we have to start back from zero. You don’t get to go back to the AFC Championship next year. You have to earn it each and every day.” …

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