Where do the Jaguars turn for their long-term solution at QB?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Hours after Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone named Blake Bortles the starting quarterback for the season opener against the Houston Texans, Bortles acknowledged he doesn't have much room for error.

"As of now, I'm promised the first snap with the first group today at practice, and after that, who knows?" Bortles said.

That also can be said for the Jaguars when it comes to the quarterback position. Bortles, Chad Henne and Brandon Allen are here this season, and after that, who knows?

Henne and Allen clearly aren't in the Jaguars' long-term plans, and unless Bortles has a season in which he looks markedly different from the past three -- an NFL-high 63 turnovers, 51 interceptions (second most over that span), 11 victories and a completion percentage of 58.8 -- he likely won't be, either.

That means the Jaguars will have to come up with a different plan. The good news is there are plenty of options, from free agency to making a trade to the NFL draft -- which is expected to be stocked with potential franchise quarterbacks.

Free agents

Detroit's Matthew Stafford has agreed to a new contract that will make him the highest-paid player in NFL history, so he's no longer an option. However, here are some of the other players scheduled to become free agents in March:

Drew Brees: He signed a one-year, $24.25 million fully-guaranteed extension in 2016, but he also has made it clear that he would like to stay with New Orleans for as long as they want him around. It would take a lot of money (which the Jaguars have) and likely a chance to win another Super Bowl in the next year or so (the Jaguars aren't close) to prevent him from re-signing with the Saints.

Kirk Cousins: Washington could use the franchise tag on him for the third consecutive year, though that number would be astronomical in the wake of Stafford's new deal. Cousins is looking for a long-term deal, and the Jaguars would have to come up with something in the $150 million range. The Jaguars will have to fight off other teams, though, including some with much better rosters.

Sam Bradford: Bradford, who is entering his seventh season, is not a dynamic quarterback, but he's steady and coming off a season in which he threw 20 touchdown passes and five interceptions and completed an NFL-record 71.6 percent of his passes. That's just the kind of numbers the Jaguars want from Bortles. However, Bradford didn't try to stretch the field very much; the Jaguars can do that with wideouts Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee (if they re-sign).

Teddy Bridgewater: Nobody knows when Bridgewater will return from a devastating knee injury, though Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer said there's a possibility he could be back this season. Nobody knows how the injury will impact his play, either. Bridgewater did lead the Vikings to an 11-5 record in 2015, but he has thrown only 28 touchdown passes in two seasons.

Jimmy Garoppolo: The Jaguars rated him rather highly on their quarterback board in 2014. There will be multiple teams pursuing Garoppolo if he does hit the open market, so it will take big money to land him. How good is he, though? There's some worry that he'll turn out to be another Matt Cassel, who parlayed one year as a starter in New England into a big contract in Kansas City but had only one good season before becoming nothing more than a backup.

Ryan Nassib: Why is he on the list? He played for Marrone and Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett at Syracuse, and he was drafted by Tom Coughlin for the New York Giants. However, Nassib was a free agent earlier this year and the Jaguars didn't pursue him, and Nassib signed a one-year deal with New Orleans for $775,000.


The Jaguars could target several unproven players (Green Bay's Brett Hundley or Cincinnati's AJ McCarron), but it would make more sense for the franchise to explore a trade for Kansas City's Alex Smith or Chicago's Mike Glennon, both of whom likely will be replaced by players drafted this season. The Jaguars' roster is nearly at a point where good quarterback play will make them contenders in the division. If the Jaguars choose this option, they can spend free agency and the draft addressing the team's other major weakness: the offensive line.

Smith's salary in 2018 will be $14.5 million, while Glennon is scheduled to make $12.5 million and $12 million in 2017 and 2018, so it won't be a cheap option, but it would be a worthwhile investment if it meant a legitimate chance for a playoff appearance.


The 2018 quarterback class could be one of the best of the past decade, provided USC's Sam Darnold, Wyoming's Josh Allen and Louisville's Lamar Jackson do indeed leave early to join UCLA's Josh Rosen. The top prospect waffles between the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Darnold and the 6-5, 222-pound Allen, depending on which draft projections you use.

Jackson is by far the most accomplished of the four. The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner has thrown for 5,383 yards and 42 touchdowns (17 interceptions) and rushed for 2,531 yards and 32 touchdowns in 25 career games. Darnold (13 games) and Rosen (19 games) have been productive at Power 5 schools, while Allen (16 games) threw five interceptions in his only game against a Power 5 school (a 32-16 loss to Nebraska last September).

Which of the players the Jaguars target will depend on their draft position. If the Jaguars finish with double-digit losses for a seventh consecutive season, they will be picking in the top 10 and might have to package picks to move up to the get player they want.

Considering the current state of the Jaguars' offensive line -- one of the reasons Marrone picked Bortles over Henne is his mobility behind a shaky front -- Jackson could be the best option.