Blake Bortles inks rookie contract with Jaguars

6/19/2014

By Paul Tenorio

By Paul Tenorio

Orlando Sentinel

(MCT) — Blake Bortles is now officially an NFL quarterback.

The former University of Central Florida star signed his rookie contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars early Wednesday morning.

The four-year deal is worth a fully-guaranteed $20.6 million, including a $13.3 million signing bonus, according to the Florida Times-Union. It also reportedly includes a team-held option for a fifth year.

"It's awesome to now officially be a Jaguar," Bortles told Jaguars.com. "It's awesome to be able to kind of put it in the past and run on the field today knowing it's done."

Bortles had a breakout 2013-14 season with UCF, leading the Knights to a 12-1 record and a win in the Fiesta Bowl over Baylor. The Oviedo, Fla., native passed for 7,598 yards with 56 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in three seasons at UCF, and rushed for another 561 yards and 15 scores. He finished with a 22-5 record as a starter, including two bowl wins.

The Jaguars surprised many by selecting Bortles with the No. 3 overall pick in May's NFL Draft. Bortles was the first quarterback selected and became the highest-overall pick in UCF history.

With the contract now signed, Bortles can move forward into the offseason with his focus solely on training camp in July.

"Kind of in my mind it's been done," Bortles told Jaguars.com. "I've been practicing and going about everything like it's already happened. It's definitely a once-in-a-lifetime thing, signing your first contract, so it's a cool feeling. But I look forward to going out today with it in the past."

The 6-foot-5 passer is expected to sit for a year behind starter Chad Henne to develop, and has shown some the ups-and-downs of the growing process during offseason workouts. His throws have sometimes fluttered in practice, and Bortles said he is not yet comfortable with all of the adjustments he's made since arriving in Jacksonville.

The emphasis has been on refining Bortles' lower-body mechanics to improve his accuracy and power behind throws. Bortles showed significant improvement from his sophomore to junior season at UCF, and he also made a jump between the Fiesta Bowl win and his Pro Day during the draft process. The Jaguars hope that growth continues to accelerate through his rookie season.

Bortles acknowledged it is a progression that may take some time.

"I'm working on a lot of things, I'm working on a lot of footwork stuff," Bortles told reporters Wednesday. "So there's things that I'm not doing well right now, but I'm not worried about it because I'm trying to fix something else. It is a process. It's something that me and (Jaguars' quarterbacks coach) Frank (Scelfo) are working on that's going to take a while. I'll continue to improve and work hard."

Only three remaining first-round picks- offensive tackle Taylor Lewan of Tennessee, offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James of Miami and defensive tackle Dominique Easley of New England, still have not signed deals.

The Jaguars have signed seven of their draft picks, including former UCF running back Storm Johnson, and expect to complete deals with second-round wide receivers Allen Robinson (Penn State) and Marqise Lee (Southern California) by the end of the week.

The Jaguars will hold their final day of mini-camp on Thursday before breaking until training camp in July.

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