The Jacksonville Jaguars have agreed to a two-year deal with quarterback Chad Henne, keeping the veteran from hitting free agency and possibly shaking up what the Jaguars have planned in the 2014 draft. The contract is worth $8 million with a reported $4.5 million guaranteed.
Henne started 13 games for the Jaguars last season, ripping the starting job away from an injured Blaine Gabbert. He finished 4-9 in those appearances with 13 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and a 76.5 QB rating. Gabbert currently remains on the Jaguars' roster, too -- he's signed through the 2014 season and the entirety of the $3.8 million owed to him is fully guaranteed.
In other words, cutting Gabbert would not save the Jaguars any money for the upcoming season. However, with $55 million-plus available under the cap, more than any team but Oakland, they may not mind taking a small hit if they are done holding out hope that Gabbert will improve.
The larger issue at hand here is if Henne's re-signing impacts the upcoming NFL draft at all. Jacksonville holds the No. 3 overall pick, so even in the event of an early QB run it would have a shot at one of Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel. It's possible that all three, plus Derek Carr and the rest of the QB class, will be on the table for the Jaguars when they go on the clock.
Even though they were fairly happy with what Henne provided last season -- at least enough to want him back through 2015 -- the odds of the Jaguars passing on a QB in favor of a Henne/Gabbert duo are low. More likely, they're counting on Henne to help them move forward with a new "franchise" quarterback, be it in this year's draft or in 2015. Henne has proven capable of holding down the fort, if nothing else, and his experienced presence could benefit any rookie signal-caller stepping into the fold.
By retaining Henne, the Jaguars also further thinned out an already shaky crop of free-agent quarterbacks. Henne would have fallen into the category of serviceable veteran alongside players like Josh McCown, Shaun Hill and Matt Cassel.
Instead, Henne will remain a Jaguar. That decision should not significantly impact how Jacksonville heads into the draft two months from now, but it does provide the franchise with a safety net at an important position.Grade: B.