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Why did the Jaguars choose to extend Blake Bortles through 2020?

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The Jaguars added years to Blake Bortles’ contract, but he still has a lot to prove if he hopes to stay in Jacksonville.

NFL: AFC Championship-Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Blake Bortles hasn’t been the best NFL quarterback in his four years in the NFL. Far from it. But he did enough to get a contract extension from the Jacksonville Jaguars that will add two years to his current deal and keep him tied to the Jaguars through the 2020 season.

Bortles, 25, will reportedly receive a three-year, $54 million deal from Jacksonville that includes $26.5 million in guaranteed money and can reach $66.5 million if he reaches all of his incentives, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. His cap hit in 2018 will drop to just $10 million. He would have eaten up $19 million in cap space without the extension, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

It comes after a bounce-back year for the quarterback who posted a completion percentage above 60 for the first time in his career in 2017 and threw 21 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. The Jaguars leaned heavily on an elite defense and powerful running attack to finish the regular season 10-6, but Bortles played well in the playoffs to help the team get to the AFC Championship.

Why did the Jaguars make the deal

Bortles was due to play 2018 on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract that would’ve paid him $19.053 million guaranteed. With Chad Henne set to reach free agency, Bortles was the only quarterback on the roster for the upcoming season and didn’t have a deal that kept him on the team in 2019.

But even though the numbers look big, they’re relatively cheap for a quarterback in the NFL today. Bortles’ contract ranks 17th among quarterbacks in terms of per year average at $18 million and will only fall further when Kirk Cousins and possibly even AJ McCarron get new deals in free agency.

By the time 2019 rolls around, it will be one of the cheapest deals in the NFL for a starting quarterback.

It also doesn’t mean the Jaguars are convinced Bortles should be the starter much longer. Until the cap hits are revealed, it’s tough to know how tied to Bortles the Jaguars really are. It’s entirely possible that the Jaguars could move on from the quarterback as early as 2019 and take on minimal dead money in what would have been the final two years of his contract.

Ultimately, the contract likely means the Jaguars are out of the market for Cousins or McCarron. It doesn’t mean the team won’t aggressively pursue a quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft and give that rookie a chance to compete with Bortles for the starting job.

What does this mean for Bortles?

The new contract doesn’t mean Bortles has three more years of starting for the Jaguars. But it does mean he’ll be the favorite to start in 2018 and that’s another opportunity to show he’s worth keeping for the long-term.

Bortles will be just 26 when the next season starts and he already has 61 NFL starts and 90 touchdown passes under his belt.

He had his most efficient and mistake-free season in 2017 and will likely have more weapons to work with in 2018 after losing Allen Robinson in Week 1 due to an ACL tear. If Bortles takes another step forward and plays up to his lofty draft status four years after he was taken No. 3 — he’ll have a chance to cash in even more after this new short-term deal is close to up.