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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars have re-signed quarterback Blake Bortles to a three-year contract extension through the 2020 season, the team announced Saturday.

The deal is for $54 million and could be worth up to $66.5 million with incentives, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The deal also includes $26.5 million in guaranteed money, according to the source.

Bortles was due to make $19.053 million in 2018 after the team picked up his fifth-year option last May.

“I told Ryan [Tollner], my agent, let’s just get it done so I can just go play football. I really would love to just know and have confirmation that this is where I’m going to be, and now let’s go work and continue to build on what we did last year and go play,” Bortles said. “So, happy and relieved. Obviously extremely excited. It’s a dream come true to be able to sign a second contract by the team that drafted me. That was one of my goals from the start so excited to get it all done and get rolling now.”

Bortles had a rough start to the 2017 season — he had a five-interception practice in training camp and coach Doug Marrone opened up the quarterback competition during the preseason — but he rebounded and put together the best year of his career. Bortles completed 60.2 percent of his passes (the first time he surpassed the 60 percent mark) for 3,687 yards and 21 touchdowns with 13 interceptions.

“I’ve been around Blake for the past three seasons, only one as the head coach, but I have seen him grow considerably in all facets: the way he prepares, the way he takes care of his body, the way he leads the team, the way he holds himself and his teammates accountable,” Marrone said.

“I have said it all along — I think Blake is one of the toughest people I have ever met, and I’m talking about his mental and physical toughness. He never lets the outside noise get him away from where his focus is, which is always on being a great teammate and being a great leader for our organization.”

The Jaguars went 10-6 and won the AFC South — the franchise’s first division title since 1999 — and made the playoffs for the first time since the 2007 season. The Jaguars beat the Buffalo Bills at home and Pittsburgh Steelers on the road to reach the AFC Championship Game against New England at Gillette Stadium.

The Jaguars held a 10-point fourth-quarter lead before the Patriots rallied for a 24-20 victory.

Bortles completed 58 percent of his passes for 598 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in the postseason. He also ran 17 times for 121 yards, including 88 yards in the victory over Buffalo. He led a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives to help the Jaguars beat the Steelers 45-42.

Bortles didn’t exactly have a full complement of receivers, either. Allen Robinson suffered a torn left ACL on the third play of the season, and veterans Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee combined to miss eight games. Undrafted rookie Keelan Cole and fourth-round pick Dede Westbrook, who missed the first nine games of the season recovering from sports hernia surgery, were Bortles’ main options during a late-season stretch.

“Blake’s growth and development last season was a key to the success we had as a team,” said Tom Coughlin, the Jaguars’ executive vice president of football operations. “Blake has proven, with toughness and dependability, that he can be the leader this team needs going forward. Along with this contract come high expectations that he will continue to improve and help our team accomplish its ultimate goal.”

The Jaguars drafted Bortles third overall in 2014. After a rough rookie year he seemed to have a breakout season in 2015, when he set single-season franchise records in passing yards (4,428) and passing touchdowns (35).

However, he also threw 18 interceptions that season. The former UCF standout led the NFL in turnovers from 2014 to 2016 (63), and his 51 interceptions during that span were second only to Philip Rivers‘ 52.

Bortles regressed in 2016, and Coughlin, who was hired in January 2017, put him on notice to cut down on turnovers. Bortles averaged 21 turnovers in each of his first three seasons but turned the ball over 16 times in 2017, including an interception that was ripped away from tight end James O’Shaughnessy.

Bortles has completed 59.1 percent of his passes for 14,928 yards and 90 touchdowns with 64 interceptions in four seasons with the Jaguars. He has run for 1,410 yards and seven touchdowns and is 21-40 as a starter.

Bortles ranks second in franchise history in touchdown passes and interceptions and third in passing yards, attempts and completions.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers bring back QB Ryan Griffin of viral video fame

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TAMPA, Fla. — After re-signing all 22 starters on offense and defense from their Super Bowl LV win, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally have a backup quarterback on their roster for the 2021 season, re-signing Ryan Griffin.

Sources told ESPN that the deal, which the team announced Tuesday, is for one year.

Griffin, 31, will enter his seventh year with the Buccaneers and second backing up future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, whom Griffin infamously whisked away from cameras after the Super Bowl boat parade, a moment that went viral on social media, and something Brady chalked up to “just litTle avoCado tequila.”

Griffin served as the Bucs’ No. 3 quarterback last season behind Blaine Gabbert, who remains unsigned. A source told ESPN that Gabbert is still an option for the team to bring back.

Griffin has seen action in two regular-season games, both in 2019, completing 2 of 4 passes for 18 yards. He originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the New Orleans Saints in 2013 after serving as a four-year starter at Tulane.



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Alex Smith’s NFL career defined by his impact and overcoming obstacles – Washington Blog

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ASHBURN, Va. — Quarterback Alex Smith‘s decision to retire from football on Monday ends an NFL career that was never about the stats or flash, but rather about impact.

That was never more evident than last season when, in only six starts, he helped transform a franchise that many had come to dislike into one fans could root for again. Just as it was never more evident than two years earlier, in 2018, when the Washington Football Team fell apart after he was injured.

In 2020, Smith’s comeback from that gruesome 2018 leg injury captured the imagination of the sporting public and, for maybe the first time in his career, turned him into a national figure whose story could, as they say, move the needle. But what he showed last season, with a return to the field few thought possible, was just a summation of his career.

The toughness. The competitiveness. The leadership.

When teammates talk about him, they don’t talk about big throws or flashy runs; they mention everything else. His former college coach, Urban Meyer, raved about his toughness and also called him the “most intelligent player I’ve ever coached.”

All those qualities made Smith a popular player in every locker room.

An anecdote after he suffered his compound leg fracture on Nov. 18, 2018, was telling. At the time, nobody realized how devastating the injury was, but there’s no doubt those in the ambulance headed to the hospital knew — they saw the bone had pierced his skin. Yet, as he headed to the hospital, Smith’s mind was on the game, not himself: How was his backup, Colt McCoy, doing? What was the score?

Considering what we know now, it’s an even bigger example of selflessness than was thought at the time. After the 2018 season — Washington went from a 6-3 mark with a healthy Smith to a 7-9 finish — players to a man said everything changed once Smith was hurt.

They said that even though Washington’s offense wasn’t humming with Smith. At the time, it ranked No. 26 in yards per game and No. 27 in points. Washington was boring and ranked No. 26 in yards per pass attempt.

Smith and then-coach Jay Gruden were still trying to find common ground, about what to do or call at times. Yet, players felt Smith’s impact. He made them feel confident with his presence in the huddle. During tense times he stayed calm. He became known for what he didn’t do — turn the ball over — a trait that contributed to winning games. Quarterback wins and losses can be a misleading stat, but consider this: During his time in Washington, the franchise went 11-5 when he started and 6-27 when he didn’t. This past season, Washington’s young wide receivers mentioned how he would remind them of the routes to run after breaking the huddle, allowing them to play more freely.

Former Washington long-snapper Nick Sundberg recalled being on the sidelines during a game and seeing Washington in a third-and-real-long situation. He worried about being backed up deep in their own territory for the ensuing punt. Punter Tress Way did not share that fear; he told Sundberg Smith would do something. Sure enough, Washington completed a play long enough to set up a far better punting situation. Those little plays weren’t exciting, but they added up.

It’s why Sundberg, discussing Smith this offseason, recalled a game from last season when he and Way were again on the sidelines together. Washington was trailing, but both agreed their team would still win. Sundberg asked Way why he thought that, knowing his answer would be the same. “Because of that man,” Way said, pointing at Smith.

Though Smith’s place in NFL history became secure this season, his career was filled with overcoming obstacles. It’s partly what made him such a strong leader. He went through it all: He knew the pressure of being a high pick, having been selected No. 1 overall in 2005. He knew the burden of failed expectations as he was largely considered a bust for his first three pro years. He knew about dealing with injuries, being benched, losing his job because of an injury and being traded — twice.

Yet he played 16 seasons.

During team meetings, Smith made it a point to sit in a different seat each time so he could get to know another player. Little things.

In San Francisco, he lost his job to Colin Kaepernick while out with an injury in 2012. The 49ers were 6-2-1 with Smith starting. He had thrown 13 touchdowns to five interceptions. But the team stuck with Kaepernick when Smith was healthy. Rather than pout, Smith did what he always did: Show up, work and help his teammates. He even would remind his coaches before games about plays Kaepernick was comfortable running.

In Kansas City, after the Chiefs traded up to select quarterback Patrick Mahomes — his eventual replacement — Smith didn’t change his approach. He showed Mahomes the blueprint for how a quarterback must prepare to succeed in the NFL. Smith said it was more about doing things the right way and leading by example than lecturing someone about what to do. When people chose to pay attention, they could learn.

Washington had become a franchise many had come to dislike, whether because of the ownership, the former team name or the failed expectations that exasperated its fans. But Smith’s comeback and coach Ron Rivera’s cancer diagnosis gave fans something to root for because their recoveries became about more than just football.

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Alex Smith details visiting with the Jaguars and possibly playing under Urban Meyer before ultimately deciding to retire.

In the end, though, Smith had nothing left to prove. Despite starting only six games last season, he had crafted a fairy-tale-type script. His return was a key reason Washington overcame a 2-6 start to win the NFC East. It didn’t result in a Super Bowl sendoff à la John Elway, but it did result in a career capped with an exclamation point.

After announcing his retirement, Smith told ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap on Outside the Lines about going snowboarding with his kids and how that helped cement his decision.

Smith had nothing left to prove in football; he showed his kids how to overcome adversity and not be deterred from a dream or a goal. Now, he can just hold the two jobs he seems to love the most: father and husband.

It’ll be interesting to see what Smith does next. For sure, he’ll make an impact. It’s what he always has done.

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Pittsburgh Steelers give coach Mike Tomlin 3-year contract extension through 2024

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The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed coach Mike Tomlin to a three-year contract extension, the team announced Tuesday. The extension will run through the 2024 season.

The 49-year-old is heading into his 15th season as the Steelers’ head coach since taking over prior to the 2007 season.

Tomlin led the Steelers to a Super Bowl XLIII victory in his second season with the team and appeared in Super Bowl XLV.

Though he hasn’t been back to a Super Bowl since the 2010 season, Tomlin’s Steelers have been consistently successful. Pittsburgh has made the playoffs nine times under Tomlin and have finished first or second in the AFC North in 12 of his 14 seasons with seven division titles, including last year.

Tomlin has compiled a 153-86-1 overall mark (including the playoffs) and has the highest winning percentage (.640) of any head coach in Steelers history, ahead of Hall of Famers Bill Cowher (1992-2006) and Chuck Noll (1969-91).

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