If Jared Goff gets injured next season, the Los Angeles Rams will be able to call on the BOAT to keep their quarterback situation afloat. The team announced Monday that it signed former Jacksonville Jaguars starter Blake Bortles to a one-year deal.
Bortles, whose BOAT (as in “best of all time”) nickname comes with more than its share of affectionate sarcasm, was released by the Jaguars after they signed quarterback Nick Foles in free agency. Over five seasons with Jacksonville, which made him the No. 3 pick in the 2014 draft, the former Central Florida star completed 59.3 percent of his passes for 17,646 yards, 103 touchdowns, 75 interceptions and an 80.6 rating, plus a record of 24-49 as a starter.
Bortles also added 1,775 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground, with his mobility being one of his biggest assets. He helped the Jaguars reach the 2017 AFC championship game, and his performance against the Patriots in which he completed 64 percent of his passes for 293 yards, one touchdown and no picks, arguably stands as his career highlight. It ended with him seeing his squad fall agonizingly short of a Super Bowl appearance in a 24-20 loss.
In Los Angeles, the 26-year-old joins a team that reached this year’s Super Bowl only to suffer its own painful loss, 13-3, to New England. Bortles figures to present little threat to the job security of Goff, a two-time Pro Bowl honoree, but he represents a better insurance policy than Sean Mannion, a former third-round pick who has thrown just 53 passes over four seasons and who will likely be signing elsewhere in free agency.
Bortles claimed Monday he was most excited about “joining a team that’s already clearly established who they are as an organization and the kind of football that they play.” He added (via therams.com): “I mean, you watch the Rams play, they’re fun to watch. So really for me, it’s just to be a part of that, but learn as much as possible and contribute anything I can.”
ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reported Monday that Bortles had “several teams interested in him,” including “some that would have set him up for a competition to start,” but he “ultimately loved being around” Los Angeles Coach Sean McVay. According to NFL Network’s Mike Silver, among the teams with interest were the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens.
Darlington added that Bortles felt “good vibes” from the Rams organization and already had a “good relationship” with Goff. It probably didn’t hurt that the two quarterbacks are represented by the same agency, REP 1.
The improvement Goff showed under McVay, as well as the coach’s overall reputation as an offensive guru, sparked speculation that McVay might also be able to help Bortles turn his career around. Bortles was benched twice for Cody Kessler last season, and in 2017 it appeared that the Jaguars would give Chad Henne their Week 1 start before they decided to place Bortles back atop the depth chart.
Another former Jaguars quarterback, Mark Brunell, offered support recently for Bortles, saying (via the Orlando Sentinel) that the “book has not been written” on him. “He’s started a bunch of games, he’s got a couple of playoff wins, he took us [the Jaguars] to the AFC championship game and he’s a big, athletic kid,” Brunell said. “He can play another 10 years in the NFL, and if he does he’ll probably get another opportunity to start at some point.”
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