GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers are signing veteran quarterback Blake Bortles, a source told Packer Central on Wednesday in confirming an NFL Network report.
The Packers had only two quarterbacks under contract: reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers and last year’s first-round pick, Jordan Love. General manager Brian Gutekunst said after the draft the team would have to bring in a third quarterback, regardless of Rodgers’s future. When Gutekunst didn’t sign an undrafted free agent immediately after the draft, it became clear he’d be on the market for a quarterback with experience to join their unsettled depth chart.
With Rodgers's future with the team in some doubt, adding a veteran quarterback was the logical move. With 73 career starts and a key connection in Green Bay, Bortles was the choice.
“I’m certain that we will add another in that room,” coach Matt 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 2017, when Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was running a Jacksonville attack that finished fifth in the NFL in scoring, Bortles helped guide the Jaguars to the AFC championship game. It was a breakthrough as the rocket-armed Bortles learned how to play the position.
“He has such an aggressive mindset, and he’s so aggressive naturally, he wants to throw the ball down the field all the time,” Hackett said before the 2018 season. “And he wasn’t necessarily playing quarterback either. I was giving him this footwork, this rhythm mindset, saying, ‘Hey, you don’t have to throw it down the field every time, you can get to a checkdown, you can get to a completion.’ That took time to develop.”
The next season, everything hit the skids. The Jaguars cratered to 31st in scoring, Hackett was fired and Bortles was benched. His final start with Jacksonville – and his last start in the NFL – came in a 20-3 loss to Houston in the 2018 finale. He completed 15-of-28 passes for a woeful 107 yards with one interception, a passer rating of just 47.8.
Bortles spent the 2019 season with the Los Angeles Rams, going 1-of-2 for 3 yards. He spent most of the 2020 season with Denver Broncos, but didn’t play, and returned to the Rams for the end of the season as insurance for injured Jared Goff.
The third pick of the 2014 draft, Bortles has thrown for 17,640 yards with 103 touchdowns vs. 75 interceptions, good for a passer rating of 80.6. In 2015, when he threw a career-high 35 touchdown passes, he led the NFL in interceptions but also game-winning drives.
The uncertain situation in Green Bay, paired with Bortles’s ties to Hackett, made this a strong fit, the source said.