Nineteen things for the $19 million that Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles remains in-line to make in 2018:

 

1. The Chiefs’ early decision to ship quarterback Alex Smith to Washington for a third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller (to become official in mid-March) created some needed Super Bowl Week buzz and either complicates the Jaguars’ quarterback plans or has zero impact.

2. If the Jaguars decide to move on from Bortles, Smith would have been the most likely target. Because he is under contract, a trade for Smith could have been completed (unofficially) so the Jaguars could safely decline Bortles’ option.

3. Now, it looks like a marriage of convenience between the Bortles and the Jaguars – he won’t find a better situation and the Jaguars will be hard-pressed to find a better option.

4. Having survived eight years on the Redskins beat (2004-11), discarding Kirk Cousins in order for Somebody Else is not surprising. It reminds me of ’04 when the Redskins had former first-round pick Patrick Ramsey but acquired Mark Brunell (then 34) from the Jaguars. Smith turns 34 in May.

5. Considering the final price for Smith, would the Jaguars have been willing to give up a 2018 third-round pick and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (like Fuller a 2016 third round pick) for Smith? No way.

6. So now we have the Cousins Sweepstakes … for a player who is 26-30-1 in the regular season and 0-1 in the postseason. And it will be fascinating. Starting quarterbacks rarely hit the open market (Drew Brees in 2006, coming off shoulder surgery, is the last one that comes to mind).

7. Teams in Quarterback Derby 2018: The Jaguars (maybe), Buffalo, the Jets, Miami (maybe), Cleveland, Denver and Arizona. Teams that have incumbent-but-aging starters and will address quarterback in the draft: The Giants, New England, Pittsburgh, the Chargers, Green Bay (maybe) and New Orleans. That is 13 of the league’s 32 teams.

8. The Jaguars’ decision to pick up Bortles’ fifth-year option last May was panned by many, but it proved semi-smart because it served as protection. Smith is off the market and the Jaguars’ 12-7 season moved them out of position to draft a quarterback who could be ready to play quickly. It doesn’t make much sense to go after Sam Bradford or Case Keenum or Josh McCown and cast aside Bortles.

9. If Bortles returns, any notion he will have “competition” is ridiculous. He will either enter the preseason as the starter with a veteran and/or draft pick as his back-ups or he will not be on the roster. Period.

10. Forget about available salary cap space this far from March 14. If a team covets a quarterback, they will cut as many players and re-work as many contracts as possible to create room for said quarterback. With a snap of the fingers, the Jaguars could create room.

11. According to the industry website Spotrac, the Jaguars currently have an estimated $25,092,064 in cap space for their top 51 contracts. That number can be easily inflated by cutting players and/or re-working deals. The Jaguars could create $14 million of space by cutting Allen Hurns, Chris Ivory, Brad Nortman and Mychal Rivera.

12. Before the Smith trade, Cousins-to-the-Jaguars was 100 percent unlikely because the Redskins could have used the transition tag. If the Jaguars signed Cousins to an offer sheet, one scenario would have been the Redskins saying, “We won’t match if you give us second- and fourth-round picks.” A non-starter for the Jaguars.

13. Here is a card the Jaguars should play if they want to pursue Cousins: They’re in better position to play in Super Bowl 53 than the Bills, Jets, Dolphins, Browns, Broncos and Cardinals. Might he be willing to take, say, an average of $20 million instead of trying to top Derek Carr’s $25 million average? That is the Jaguars’ best course – convince Cousins he is the final piece.

14. Ultimately, I think this will be a Discount Aisle Free Agent Shopping Season for the Jaguars even though they need help at tight end, receiver, throughout the offensive line and linebacker depth. The Jaguars have the cap space, but need to earmark money for the future.

15. More Bortles talk: Will he be able to pass a physical before March 14 considering he had right wrist surgery last week? Our guess is yes. The Jaguars remained strangely silent, taking more than 12 hours to even confirm the operation took place. They should have taken the opportunity to issue a statement that the surgery won’t greatly delay Bortles’ off-season training and they were impressed that he played through the injury for 19 games. Instead, nothing.

16. One conspiracy theory about the Jaguars’ reluctance to comment on Bortles’ surgery: His camp leaked the news to tell other NFL teams he toughed it out in 2017 and will be healthy when free agency opens.

17. One doctor I spoke with about Bortles wondered if the injury was closer to the thumb and was a result of him being injured as he tried to brace his fall – like how baseball players injury their thumb diving into second base – and the thumb was bent back, impacting a wrist ligament.

18. The Jaguars need a receiving tight end and the draft appears to have plenty of them. If Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews is there at No. 29, he could be a no-brainer choice.

19. Thursday night football is not going anywhere. FOX and the NFL signed a five-year contract on Thursday for “around” $550 million per season according to Sports Business Daily.