Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson scores a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL International Series on November 9, 2014 at Wembley Stadium in London. File photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Jacksonville Jaguars locked down half of their second-most productive passing combination in franchise history when they signed quarterback Blake Bortles to a three-year contract extension in mid-February.
Now the Jaguars turn their attention to cementing the package by inking wide receiver Allen Robinson to an agreement that both sides can live with.
Such a deal may not be as easy to finalize as the Bortles agreement. It was a three-year deal worth about $54 million with nearly $26 million guaranteed. Bortles' contract calls for an average of $18 million per season, which puts him in the lower half of the pay scale of NFL starting quarterbacks. But for Bortles, it wasn't all about the money.
"It is a dream come true," Bortles said. "My goal from the start -- everyone dreams of making 100 million dollars or the quarterbacks are expected to sign the big deal and that was never something that was very important to me.
"Signing this second deal with the team that drafted me was my goal from the beginning. It has been done, and I am excited and thrilled and proud of myself for being able to do that. There is obviously a lot of work and things that need to go on."
Bortles has left little doubt about how much he would like to have free-agent Robinson re-sign with the Jaguars. The pair hooked up for the second-most prolific season in franchise history when Robinson grabbed 80 passes for 1,400 yards and a league-leading 14 touchdown passes in 2015.
Only in 1999, when Mark Brunell and Jimmy Smith combined for 116 completions for 1,636 yards, has anyone exceeded Robinson's yardage total from two years ago. The difference between Robinson and Smith is that Smith had more than 1,000 yards in nine of 10 seasons with the Jaguars while Robinson has hit that mark just once.
Robinson's production fell off to 73 catches for 883 yards and six scores in 2016 when Bortles' numbers also fell.
Last September, Robinson caught one pass for 17 yards in Jacksonville's opening drive of the season against Houston. But on that play, Robinson tore his ACL and missed the remainder of the season.
He's ahead of schedule in his rehab from the surgery, but the injury has caused the Jaguars to be weary of Robinson's return to action and if he can still play at an elite level.
Robinson's contract has expired and he will become an unrestricted free agent when the NFL's league year begins March 14.
The Jaguars have the option of placing the franchise tag on Robinson, but it would likely cost them a little over $16 million for the 2018 season and that may be more than what the team wants to spend for any wide receiver.
Head coach Doug Marrone spoke of the importance of having Robinson back next year.
"I think when you look at the team, Allen was obviously a very good player for us," Marrone said. "We have options right now with the tag that is out there. We will be in discussions or have been in discussions and we have been in planning and it is one of those things where when we have an announcement to make, it will come out."
Marrone did say that Robinson appears to be on schedule and ready to participate in the upcoming OTAs.
"I think everything is on the positive. Everything has looked good. He is right on schedule. He is there every day," Marrone said. "I see him quite a bit. I know that he has worked hard. We have all seen his work on the field and how hard he works on the field. I think what you can't see is that he is working twice as hard in the recovery process and the rehabilitation."
General manager Dave Caldwell didn't come out with a strong endorsement for re-signing Robinson when he spoke at the Combine on Wednesday.
"Allen is a great kid. There are a lot of things we like about him, but we just have to make sure it is the right thing for the team," Caldwell said.
What must be taken into account when looking at the Robinson scenario is that the Jaguars would also like to re-sign nickel back Aaron Colvin, also set to become an unrestricted free agent in a few weeks.
If the Jaguars have to tag Robinson and spend close to $16 million for their wide receiver, they still may be able to sign Colvin, but it may not leave enough dollars for them to replace any other starters, like on the offensive line that is in need of an upgrade.
A day after Jacksonville lost the AFC Championship Game to New England, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said the "shock" of the loss might not wear off until after the Super Bowl. It was the Jaguars' first appearance in an AFC championship game since 2000 when they lost to Tennessee 33-14. This year's loss was much closer.
The Jaguars led the Patriots by 10 points with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter before giving up two touchdowns that resulted in a New England win.
Marrone hadn't fully taken hold of what happened the day before when he met with local media the next day. In his first appearance with the media since then, Marrone talked about the lessons learned from that game when he spoke Wednesday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
"Sometimes you win a game and you don't feel good about it. You are going to go back and look and say, 'Maybe we should have done this. Maybe we should have done that.' I think that is a natural -- it is human nature," Marrone said. "I think any time you don't win a football game you are going to look back to see where you could have done a better job.
"Obviously, in that game there were points where we could have done a better job. I am not just saying just the players, from us as coaches and we are all in that together."
Asked whether he would have handled the offensive game plan differently in the fourth quarter, Marrone cast the blame on himself for the Jaguars failing to hold the lead against the Patriots.
"It is one of those things where we thought we would be able to run the football at an efficient level and we weren't able to do that," he said. "You have to give New England credit there and they did a better job of executing, a better job of coaching than we did at times. I put that more on me than anything else.
"I have to do a better job for our coaches and our players to give them an opportunity to perform or execute at a better level."