Doubling down on Bortles was the wrong move in Jacksonville

Tom Coughlin won two Super Bowl rings with the New York Giants by twice beating New England with a tenacious defense and a quarterback (Eli Manning) who twice piloted game-winning drives late in the fourth quarter.

When Coughlin, fired by the Giants as head coach two years ago, was hired by Jacksonville owner Shad Khan to run the Jaguars last year, he addressed the defense.

He signed three defensive starters in free agency to upgrade his defense into one of the best in the league.

Coughlin, though, did not address the quarterback situation and didn’t bring in one in free agency or the draft to challenge Blake Bortles or even to replace Chad Henne as the backup.

Instead, he decided he needed to bolster the running game to help Bortles and drafted running back Leonard Fournette instead of quarterback DeShaun Watson in the first round and took left tackle Cam Robinson with his second pick.

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Sherman and other young NFL stars are too willing to give up potential leverage

When a player negotiates his own deal without an agent, there are always questions whether a team took advantage of his lack of negotiating experience.

So it wasn’t surprising that Richard Sherman was knocked – notably on Pro Football Talk – for negotiating an incentive-laden contract with the San Francisco 49ers.

Even after Sherman told Peter King of The MMQB that the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions said the incentive-laden deal was too rich for them, and the Oakland Raiders said they didn’t have the cap money to compete, PFT called it a “substandard deal, one that any good experienced agent could have improved upon easily and quickly.’’

Since it appears nobody else was willing to offer more, only the 49ers know if Sherman got the best deal they were willing to give or whether he left money on the table. It’s also hard to determine what the market is for a veteran Pro Bowl cornerback coming off a torn ACL.

I think he should have negotiated a one-year deal. Then he would have had more leverage next year if he returns to his Pro Bowl form this year.

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Goodell vs. Jones is bad for the NFL, but always entertaining

Time for more popcorn.

The entertaining Roger & Jerry Show is back.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones spent much of last year unsuccessfully trying to convince his fellow owners to delay commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract extension, but Goodell had the majority of the owners on his side.

Jones also was upset with the six-game suspension of Ezekiel Elliott, although his son, Stephen, said the Cowboys were only “observers’’ in that process. Not that Jerry Jones is noted for observing. He likes to be in the middle of the action.

Still, Goodell won on both counts. The NFL won the court fight and Elliott served his suspension and Goodell got his contract extension.

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With rings, his health and nothing more to prove, Gronk should retire

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski started the guessing game right after the Super Bowl a month ago when he was asked if he was considering retiring.

“I don’t know how you heard about that,’’ he said, which is not exactly a denial.

Gronkowski added he would definitely look at his future in the next couple of weeks and “see where I’m at.’’

Since then he’s only had  three cryptic tweets about his future.

“There are NO limits,’’ was one.

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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.

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Continued rise of the useless NFL scouting combine still baffles

The NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis has become a major media event that kicks off the offseason and has helped turn the NFL into a year round sport.

Most newspapers send reporters, the NFL Network will have 52 hours of programming and NFL Media is covering it with an army of 22 reporters.

Even fans now can apply for tickets to watch some workouts and even press conferences.

Not bad for an event that is largely a waste of time except for the media coverage the NFL gets out of it.

Most scouts would be better off staying home and watching film of the players actually playing football.

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Riveting new book further exposes the seedy underbelly of college football

College football’s recent National Letter of Intent Day has become a major media event.

The high school athletes hold press conferences for one of the most memorable days of their lives as they announce where they’re signing and the media grades the recruiting classes of the colleges.

But before the high school seniors head off to college, they and their parents should read a new book by Pulitzer Prize-winner Mike McIntire entitled, “Champions Way: Football, Florida and the Lost Soul of College Sports.’’

The book chronicles how many of the athletes are exploited, funneled into no-show classes and often leaving school without a degree or a future in pro football.

And the football program – supported by free-spending boosters — often seems bigger than the university.

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