Bortles’ extension takes Jaguars out of Cousins sweepstakes

The Kirk Cousins Sweepstakes lost a contestant on Saturday, giving the Jets a little less competition for the free-agent quarterback’s services.

The Jaguars agreed to a three-year, $54 million extension with quarterback Blake Bortles. The deal, according to multiple reports, includes $26.5 million in guaranteed money, and it ties Bortles to Jacksonville through the 2020 season.

The Jaguars were a wild card in the race for Cousins because some believed they were ready to move on from Bortles. Just this week, an ESPN article evaluating Cousins’ prospective suitors picked the Jaguars as the best landing spot for him.

The Jaguars had success with Bortles in 2017, going 10-6 and winning a division title for the first time since 1999. They advanced to the AFC Championship game, in which they blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead against the Patriots.

Despite the playoff run, many questioned whether the Jaguars would stick with Bortles or would opt to move in another direction, such as signing Cousins.

The Jets are going to be aggressive in their pursuit of Cousins, the Redskins quarterback who is slated to become a free agent on March 14.

Now, their top competition for Cousins is expected to come from the Broncos, Browns, Cardinals and possibly the Vikings. There surely will be a surprise team as well.

The Jaguars could have offered Cousins an attractive destination because they are a team built to win now, as evidenced by their finish in 2017, and because of the lack of state income tax in Florida.

The Bortles extension should also extinguish any remaining thought that the Giants might ship quarterback Eli Manning to the Jaguars. Jacksonville was viewed as a possible destination for Manning if the Giants chose to move on because former Big Blue coach Tom Coughlin is the Jaguars’ executive vice president of football operations.

Bortles had his best season in 2017, completing 60.2 percent of his passes for 3,687 yards with 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He was due to make $19 million this season after the team picked up his fifth-year option last May. The Jaguars drafted Bortles third overall in 2014.


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