Packers Sign Former Jaguars Starting QB Blake Bortles: Report


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Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks to pass the ball down field in the game against the Indianapolis Colts in the third quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Another veteran quarterback is on his way to the Green Bay Packers.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Packers are signing former Jacksonville Jaguars starting quarterback Blake Bortles — the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft — to a one-year contract, giving them another veteran passer as they continue working to resolve their ongoing issues with current starter and reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers.

 

With Bortles set to sign, the Packers will now have at least two quarterbacks with them when voluntary OTA begins on May 24, including also 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love. Rodgers — who ESPN’s Rob Demovsky reported has skipped the virtual portion of the offseason program — is not expected to attend the voluntary OTAs and may also hold out of their three-day mandatory minicamp in June.

The Packers are also expected to host quarterbacks Chad Kelly and Kurt Benkert for tryouts during this weekend’s two-day rookie minicamp. Once Bortles’ signing is official, there will be one spot remaining on their 90-man offseason roster.

 

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Bortles Has Started More Than 70 NFL Games

Bortles, 29, started 76 games over his five seasons with the Jaguars and touted a 2-1 record in the playoffs, suffering his only postseason loss to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots during the 2017 AFC Championship Game. He also spent the 2019 season with Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams as Jared Goff’s backup, coming back for a second stint on the practice squad in 2020 after Goff was injured late in December.

Bortles also has a connection to Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who served as a prominent Jaguars assistant coach during the majority of his time in Jacksonville. Hackett began working with Bortles in 2015 as his quarterbacks coach, helping him produce his first (and only) 4,000-yard season as a passer. Over the next three seasons, he gradually helped Bortles reduce his interception total (18 in 2015 to 11 in 2018) and raise his completion percentage (58.6% to 60.3%), an effort that culminated with an AFC Championship Game berth in 2017 for the Jaguars.


Bortles Signing Likely Unrelated to Rodgers’ Rift

The Packers were bound to sign a new quarterback this offseason. General manager Brian Gutekunst had indicated at the beginning of the month the Packers would “never” heard into training camp with just two quarterbacks, so seeing a veteran like Bortles taken off the market while things are still unclear with Rodgers is a wise move even if it doesn’t change how they feel about bringing back their reigning MVP quarterback.

“We’ll have a third arm, and maybe a fourth arm as we go through,” Gutekunst said on May 1 about the possibility of adding more quarterbacks to the roster. “We’ve kind of had some conversations before the draft with some veterans and then some rookie guys we’re looking at as well. But we would never go into camp with two. We’ll at least have three, maybe four.”

Now, the Packers have a veteran security blanket to support their quarterback room in case things cannot be resolved with Rodgers. Bortles might not have a ton of sustained success on his resume, but the Packers could do much worse than a former top-three draft pick when it comes to finding a backup for Love. And if Rodgers does stick around, Bortles gets a chance to compete for a place on the practice squad as QB3.