bortles photo

Rams quarterback Blake Bortles warms up before a 2019 game.

TownNews.com Content Exchange

GREEN BAY — Blake Bortles hasn’t started an NFL game since 2018, but the former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback brings something the Green Bay Packers currently don’t have in their building with the Aaron Rodgers saga still dragging on. 

Experience.

An NFL source confirmed Wednesday evening that the Packers are indeed signing Bortles to a one-year contract. Bortles played for current Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett when Hackett held that same post in Jacksonville. Bortles also spent the 2019 season and part of last season with the Los Angeles Rams, who run a variation of the scheme the Packers run under coach Matt LaFleur.

LaFleur and general manager Brian Gutekunst both said following the NFL draft that the team would add more quarterbacks, even if the schism between Rodgers and the organization hadn’t happened. https://madison.com/wsj/sports/football/professional/packers-begin-search-for-qb-help-and-maybe-aaron-rodgers-short-term-replacement/article_825efcdf-2fb0-5bc4-8b2e-0a8b8401aa5c.html

But it would seem that Bortles is a logical addition just in case the Rodgers’ drama continues well into the offseason and into training camp since 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love’s rookie season was essentially a waste.

Love, whose selection after Gutekunst traded up to take in the first round played a major role in Rodgers’ disillusionment with the GM, never even got to wear his No. 10 jersey on a game day last year, as he was the inactive third quarterback all season behind Rodgers and No. 2 quarterback Tim Boyle. The Packers chose not to make Boyle, a restricted free agent, a qualifying offer in March, and he left for the Detroit Lions.

Not only did Love not have an offseason program last spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the coronavirus also led to a truncated training camp and the cancelation of all preseason games. During the regular season, his practice reps were also limited while Rodgers took virtually all of the first-team reps and Boyle needed nearly all of the scout-team work in case Rodgers went down with an injury in a game.

If everything was hunky-dory with the three-time NFL MVP, the Packers may have merely added one of the two quarterbacks they’re bringing in for this weekend’s rookie camp on a tryout basis: Chad Kelly and Kurt Benkert.

Kelly has virtually no regular-season experience since entering the league in 2017, but spent the parts of the past two years with the Indianapolis Colts and put up good numbers during the 2019 preseason, completing 54 of 73 passes (74%) for 583 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for a 94.7 passer rating.

Benkert, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia in 2018, has spent the past three seasons on the Atlanta Falcons’ practice squad or injured reserve.

The Packers could sign one of them or another young quarterback after the rookie camp and carry four quarterbacks — including Rodgers — into the on-field work of the offseason program, which starts next week. Rodgers is not expected to attend the technically voluntary sessions leading up to the June 8 start of the mandatory minicamp.

“I’m certain that we will add another (QB) in that room,” LaFleur said after the draft. “You never want to go to camp or offseason program with less three quarterbacks. We’ll be busy in that department. Shoot, sometimes you carry four. That’s certainly something that I think Brian and I will be in communication about in terms of who we’re going to add to that room.”

In 73 career regular-season starts, Bortles, the third overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, has completed 59.3% of his passes for 17,649 yards with 103 touchdowns and 75 interceptions (80.6 passer rating).

He had one of his finest seasons in 2017, when Hackett was his offensive coordinator with the Jaguars. That year, Bortles completed 60.2% of his passes for 3,687 yards with 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions (84.7 rating) as the Jaguars reached the AFC Championship Game. In three playoff games that year, he threw three touchdown passes without an interception (91.0 rating)

Bortles spent most of last season with the Denver Broncos before re-signing with the Rams in late December when Jared Goff suffered a thumb injury.

"The sky's the limit," Hackett told the Jaguars team website during the 2018 offseason. “(Quarterback) is such a difficult position to play.

"(In 2017), he was starting to really trust some things. If you look at it from that point on, he really started to grow. Even when games weren't great, he knew how to fix it. He didn't get down. In the past when he had a bad game or did some bad things it was, 'I'm done,' or, 'I can't do it.' Now, he can fix it and move on.”


Photos: Packers’ 2020 season in pictures

Photos: Packers' 2020 season in pictures

Check out photo galleries from every game of 2020 through the end of the regular season and the playoffs.

This article originally ran on madison.com.

You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.
0
0
0
0
0

Locations

TownNews.com Content Exchange
Load comments

Thank you for reading!

Please purchase a subscription to read our premium content. If you have a subscription, please log in or sign up for an account on our website to continue.