Bortles’ willingness to sign a bad deal (for him) is a head-scratcher

Blake Bortles is a natural leader who has a team-first attitude.

He proved that last Saturday when he signed an extension with the Jacksonville Jaguars that is so team-friendly that you wonder why he agreed to it.

It is a good deal for Bortles only if he doesn’t have a good year.

The three-year, $54 million deal that could go up to $66.5 million with incentives has $26.5 million in guarantees. The fifth-year option would have cost the Jaguars $19 million. So for $7.5 million, the Jaguars now have him under contract for three years at an average of $18 million a year.

And it lowered his cap number this year to $10 million.

If Bortles refused to sign the deal and the Jaguars paid him the option, he would have had a lot of leverage next year if he has a good season.

Explaining why he agreed to the deal, he said that signing a $100 million deal that everyone expects for the second deal of a quarterback’s career was never a goal of his.

“Signing this second deal with the team that drafted me was my goal from the beginning,’’ he said.

And Bortles noted the contract will give the Jaguars more cap room to sign other players.

“It allows us to go get some other guys done and continue to be a good football team all around,’’ he said.

Still, there is the nagging question of whether Bortles is their long-term answer at quarterback.

I think he is too inconsistent to develop into an elite quarterback. And network TV announcers have said that at production meetings, he has said he is “not a natural thrower of the football.’’

Still, the team’s top football executive, Tom Coughlin, said, “Along with this contract comes high expectations that he will continue to improve and help our team accomplish its ultimate goal.’’

That would be winning the Super Bowl, and Bortles came within a few minutes of making it last year in the New England loss in the AFC title game, but the Jaguars coaches didn’t show a lot of confidence in him the way they coached that game.

Coach Doug Marrone decided to take a knee with 55 seconds left in the first half, then the Jaguars were conservative in their play-calling in the second half when they were limited to two field goals and couldn’t hold a 20-10 lead.

Bortles said after the game that Coughlin told him he played a good half, so Coughlin apparently put the blame on Bortles, not the coaches, for the second half.

Bortles did say he is making a fast recovery from a wrist surgery a month ago and will be ready to resume his normal four days a week throwing program in two weeks.

Unless Bortles suddenly morphs into a great quarterback, the Jaguars still have a lot of questions at the position. Will they replace Chad Henne, and if they do, will they draft a quarterback on the first two rounds to be the backup and groom him for the future? Or will they bring in another veteran?

The Jaguars got a great deal when they locked up Bortles for the next three years.

Whether Bortles will still be on the roster in three years remains to be seen.

If he is not, who will be the quarterback of the future?

They may need one who is a natural thrower of the football.

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