After scoring the opening touchdown of the AFC game, Jacksonville tight end Marcedes Lewis pointed to his wrist indicating it was time for the Jaguars.
Not at all.
New England and 40-year-old quarterback Tom Brady weren Still ready to give up the crown of his conference. As the final seconds marked the Gillette Stadium marker, it was the Jacksonville season that had ended with a 24-20 road loss.
IYER: Brady surpasses himself with the comeback in the AFC championship game 19659002] "At the beginning of the year, I said I thought this team could be special," said the Jaguars coach , Doug Marrone, in his post-match press conference. "We are short, but I hope we start again and take advantage of that feature of playing for each other … Fortunately, we can keep that in our team."
It's not the only challenge the Jaguars will face during the offseason .
These are the three most important decisions about personnel that Jacksonville must take to become a free agent.
1. What is the plan in the field marshal?
The first step is to determine whether to continue moving forward with Blake Bortles in the center. Bortles showed a significant improvement in his fourth season of the NFL and seems to have even more bullish towards the future. 19659002] But before committing to advance for at least another year with a high salary of $ 19.1 million, the Jaguars have to evaluate how much better Bortles can become and if there is a more attractive option that can be realistically obtained through trade or free agency. Bortles base salary is guaranteed on March 14 (the first day of the NFL 2018 calendar year) if it is still on the Jacksonville list.
A wait and see scenario would be to stay with B Spelling for another year, but targeting a quarterback in the early rounds as a possible heir.
In a hungry league of quarterbacks, the Jags would play with fire if they voided the fifth year option of Bortles' rookie contract and let him try free agency with the option to re-sign what would presumably be a minor deal if he did not find other offers to your liking. If the Jags are all-in in Bortles, there could be a contract for several years.
"It's been an incredible season," Bortles said after his solid 23-of-36, 293 yards against the Patriots. "I think it's been a lot of fun despite what happened today, it's been a special trip to do this in an organization that has not done this for a long time with a special group of guys."
"It's hard to try to enjoy it now. same, but I'm sure that at some point we can reflect and think about all the good things that happened. Find a way to fix it to make sure we do not feel this way again at this point. "
2. What free agents should be re-signed?
At the age of 33, it would not be surprising if linebacker Paul Posluszny retires now that he finally made his first post-season appearance after 11 seasons in the NFL: Posluszny's role in the Jags defense has already been reduced this season with Myles Jack and Telvin Smith handling the responsibilities of the linebacker in the Jacksonville nickel packs.
Graybeard that could have left is the quarterback. 32-year-old substitute Chad Henne, who squandered his chance to win Bortles' starting job during the preseason, two of the team's top wide receivers entering the season, Allen Robinson and Marquis Lee, also have expiring contracts. of rookies Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook could make either or both dispensable.
Left starting guard Patrick Omameh and the cornerback That Aaron Colvin are solid players who should have a strong free agent market if they are allowed to try it.
The Jaguars have an available space of $ 25.8 million in salary cap for 2018, but they can create more space with contractual restructurings, extensions or player launches.
3. What areas need updating?
In addition to the field marshal puzzle, the Jaguars are in great shape when it comes to talent in all areas thanks to good pitching, free agent signing and smart box management. The key to building your 2017 Breakout campaign will be another career in good health and using this season's success as a springboard instead of becoming complacent and remembered as a one-year wonder.
"I think the funny thing is obviously a lot of people were surprised by what happened this year, but nobody in that wardrobe," said Bortles. "Our bar was ready within a week or two weeks and we did not get there.
" We will go back to the drawing board and we will solve it. We hope to come back this time again to try it next year. "
Only time will tell.
Alex Marvez can be heard from 7 pm to 11 pm Eastern time Monday and from 7 to 10 pm Eastern time Tuesday on SiriusXM NFL Radio.