NFL

Jaguars sign rookie QB Bortles to four-year contract

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The Canadian Press
6/18/2014 9:45:57 AM
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Rookie quarterback Blake Bortles has a number of things to work on before training camp.

His contract is no longer on the list.

Bortles, the first quarterback taken in last month's NFL draft, signed a four-year deal worth more than $20.6 million Wednesday.

The third overall selection, Bortles signed the fully guaranteed contract before the second day of a mandatory, three-day minicamp.

Bortles received a $13.3 million signing bonus. The Jaguars got a team option for a fifth year.

"I never thought about, 'I need to sign. I can't wait to sign. I need to hurry up to sign,"' Bortles said. "It is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, signing your first NFL contract. So that was something that's cool and I'll cherish forever. But it's definitely in the past and forgotten about in my mind."

With Bortles under contract, the Jaguars have two unsigned draft picks -- second-round receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. The team hopes to sign both by the end of the week.

Bortles has been up and down during organized team activities, about what the Jaguars expected when they drafted him and planned to let him watch and learn in 2014 and take over next season.

He continues to tweak his mechanics, mostly footwork, and his performances reflect that he's a work in progress.

"There's a lot to correct," Bortles said. "There are things that I'm not doing well right now. But I'm not worrying about it because I'm trying to fix something else. It is a process. It's something that we're working on that's going to take a while."

Bortles played in a spread offence at UCF, rarely lining up under centre, so that's been a change. The biggest challenge has been getting his feet properly aligned. He's accurate throwing to his left, but still has a tendency to step forward when throwing to his right. And it's really affected his deep balls, which have fluttered and floated during OTAs and minicamp.

"You've got to make the stuff muscle-memory because what I've been doing for 22 years isn't the right way," Bortles said. "But that's what I'm used to doing, so I've got to fix it. It's got to take time."

The Jaguars aren't worried.

They drafted Bortles with an eye on the future. Jacksonville re-signed veteran Chad Henne and named him the starter even before selecting Bortles, and insist the plan is to hold the rookie until he's ready -- even if that means making him the backup until 2015.

"Sometimes there's anxiety and sometimes he's pressing and trying to do too many things," coach Gus Bradley said. "We're just watching that and he'll work through that. Some of the things he has to work through and he will."

Bortles started 30 games at UCF before declaring for the NFL draft following his junior season. He went 22-5 as a starter, throwing for 7,598 yards with 56 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. He also ran for 561 yards and 15 scores.

He realizes the transition from college star to NFL starter will take time and patience.

"It was the same thing freshman year of college, so you're just starting all over again," Bortles said. "It's just everybody's bigger, stronger and faster. You're going through the same thing. You're learning the new playbook, you're meeting new people and you have different challenges. You've got to be able to have that quarterback amnesia and move past things."

Blake Bortles (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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