JACKSONVILLE – Blake Bortles’ future begins now.
As for what that future will hold, the Jaguars’ starting quarterback – for the moment, at least – said he has no idea.
“I’m here until I’m told otherwise,” Bortles said Monday, a day after the Jaguars’ 20-3 loss to the Houston Texans in the 2018 regular-season finale.
Bortles, the Jaguars’ starting quarterback for 72 consecutive games until being replaced by Cody Kessler from Weeks 13-16 this season, started against Houston Sunday.
Though Bortles signed a three-year contract extension this past offseason, he said Monday he has not discussed his future with anyone in the organization. Observers have speculated Bortles could be released or traded in the offseason.
“It’s just me waiting on them, I guess,” Bortles said, adding: “I’ve heard nothing from anybody related to the team.”
Jaguars Owner Shad Khan at game’s end Sunday announced that Head Coach Doug Marrone, Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin and General Manager David Caldwell will return for 2019. Of that trio, only Marrone has spoken publicly since the announcement.
Marrone at his end-of-season press conference Monday said he won’t start seriously considering offseason personnel decisions until the middle of this week.
The Jaguars currently have three quarterbacks on the roster: Bortles, Kessler and rookie Tanner Lee, who spent 15 games on the practice squad before being on the roster but inactive for Sunday’s game at Houston.
The Jaguars hold the No. 7 overall selection in the April 25-27 2019 NFL Draft.
Bortles said he is confident he will play in the NFL “whether it’s here or elsewhere” next season, and said he plans to follow his normal offseason routine of working on mechanics and fundamentals with his personal throwing coaches in Southern California.
“I’ve got to make sure I’m taking care of myself and getting healthy so when I get that shot – whether it’s here or somewhere else – I’ll be ready to go,” Bortles said.
Bortles, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, started for the Jaguars from Week 4 of his rookie season until being replaced in the lineup by Kessler following a 24-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 12 of this season.
Bortles in five seasons with the Jaguars has thrown for 17,464 yards with 103 touchdowns and 75 interceptions and a 24-49 record as a starter. He threw for 3,687 yards with 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2017, when the Jaguars went 10-6 in the regular season to win the AFC South before advancing to the AFC Championship Game.
The Jaguars started this season 3-1, including a victory over the defending AFC Champion New England Patriots at TIAA Bank Field in September – a game in which Bortles threw four touchdown passes. Bortles finished this season with 2,718 yards and 13 touchdowns passing with 11 interceptions.
The Jaguars finished 5-11 and lost 10 of their last 12 games, with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett being dismissed the same day Bortles was replaced by Kessler.
“We started good, then we got on that skid and couldn’t get out of it,” Bortles said. “It still could have been, but it wasn’t handled and dealt with differently. That’s why we’re sitting here now in this situation.”
Bortles was asked if he felt like a scapegoat considering Coughlin, Caldwell and Marrone will return.
“I think that’s part of a quarterback’s job description, I think,” Bortles said. “When things don’t go well, a lot of it falls on the quarterback’s shoulders. I know that and signed up for that and have no problem with it. Whether it’s a scapegoat or whatever you want to call it, somebody’s got to take the blame when things don’t go well.
“I think Nathaniel was one of those guys. I think I’m one of those guys. There are other guys on this team who were part of that as well.”