Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agency 2017: 5 quarterbacks to consider

Dec 4, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne (7) watches the action during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 4, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne (7) watches the action during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

With Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles struggling to progress, the team may need a qualified veteran quarterback to replace Chad Henne should the need to replace Bortles arise.

2017 will be a prove it year for Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles. He needs to show that he can be more like the 2015 sophomore that took the NFL by storm rather than the 2016 letdown that has fans of the team questioning whether he should even suit up next season.

While the Jags have longtime veteran backup Chad Henne on the roster for 2017, the team could well upgrade that backup position to be a more challenging quarterback that can push Bortles onto greater heights. Brandon Allen, a 2016 sixth round pick, is also quietly waiting in the wings but is an unproven entity at this point.

RELATED: BRANDON ALLEN COULD BE THE FUTURE AT QUARTERBACK FOR JAGUARS

All this is to say that even though Henne has done an admirable, professional job as an early mentor for Bortles, he may not be the right guy to step in and replace him if need be. He also may not be the right guy to spur Bortles on and inject some competition that Bortles hasn’t known since arriving in Jacksonville.

And to do that, the Jags must look at the 2017 free agent market. There are plenty of quarterbacks who are aiming to get big-time payouts for their services and there are quarterbacks who have some significant experience but have the lower aim of simply catching on with a roster. The Jags aren’t going to be targeting a player like Kirk Cousins who is almost cemented as a franchise quarterback. Look for a lesser name to be a more likely target.

We’ll examine five of these options for the Jaguars.

Oct 20, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer (2) warms up before game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 20, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer (2) warms up before game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

1) Brian Hoyer, journeyman starting quarterback

Few players have as much longevity as Brian Hoyer without fully catching on with one team. A player for five teams since entering the league in 2009 and a starter for four of those teams, Hoyer has seen his fair share of offensive systems and organizations.

Shockingly, Hoyer has shouldered through the adversity of changing locales almost every year to put together an impressive resume. A career 16-15 record as a starter (even with two years playing for the Cleveland Browns in which he went 10-6 as starter) is the primary highlight for Hoyer. He has shown he can adapt to a new situation and play effectively enough in average games to be a threat.

While he may be most remembered for his disastrous single moment on a big stage – a four interception performance in the 2015 playoffs for the Houston Texans – Hoyer should be respected as a passer worth his salt through the regular season. His rebound from 2015’s horrendous end to his performance for the Chicago Bears in 2016 is particularly noteworthy.

Starting for the Bears from Week 3 to Week 7, Hoyer was one of the hottest quarterbacks in the NFL before being sidelined by injury. His 98.0 passer rating would have been seventh best in the NFL if he had kept it up for the rest of the season. He didn’t light up the scoreboard but he did manage to throw six touchdowns with zero interceptions in five starts. He did that while completing 67 percent of his passes.

Hoyer is by no means a perfect player, but he may be in the midst of a late-career renaissance. The end of 2015 could kill some players’ careers but Hoyer rebounded to post his best series of games in his career. While the Bears may bring Hoyer back, he’ll have to compete to be the starter. Other teams will be gunning for him, especially after displaying (yet again) his resilience.

The real question when considering Hoyer is whether he is an upgrade for the Jacksonville Jaguars over Chad Henne. Henne is also a veteran but hasn’t had as much success as Hoyer through his career. He also hasn’t been as consistently safe with the football, which adds another consideration.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Training Camp

2) Mike Glennon, backup quarterback for Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Once thought to be one of the better young quarterbacks with a bright future, Mike Glennon has seen his time passed by. Brought into the NFL as a third round pick in 2013, Glennon has only started in 18 games and the Tampa Buccaneers moved onto other options after just five games in his sophomore campaign.

Without a single start to his name in 2015 and 2016, Glennon is going nowhere fast. Jameis Winston is the guy for the Bucs and Glennon’s career down in Tampa is going nowhere fast.

Less proven than many other options, Glennon still has some of the potential linger around him that made him a starter as a rookie in 2013. He has a 59.4 completion percentage for his career, has 30 touchdowns to 15 interceptions, and a career rating of 84.6.

Erik Lambert of NFL Mocks was high on Glennon in his free agent profile of him:

Glennon is not some sideshow. He has shown he can play well when given proper help around him. He’s shown a capacity for handling NFL defenses, doesn’t shrink in the face of a pass rush and can deliver strikes down the field.

While Glennon is mostly unproven, he is the kind of young player with talent that can be used to push Blake Bortles for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Glennon, with some work, could be a starter in the NFL again and that potential may keep Bortles on his toes.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at New York Jets

3) Case Keenum, quarterback, Los Angeles Rams

Case Keenum’s time with the Los Angeles Rams fizzled out in 2016. While then-head coach Jeff Fisher committed to Keenum and let first round quarterback Jared Goff ride the bench, Keenum didn’t do enough to warrant holding on to the job.

Just 7-7 as a starter in two seasons with the Rams, Keenum posted a 79.5 quarterback rating over that span. He completed 60.9 percent of his passes last season and threw nine touchdowns to 11 interceptions.

To say Keenum would be an uninspired addition to the Jacksonville Jaguars would be warranted. Nobody expects Keenum to come in and be any better than Blake Bortles, especially given his performances last season, which included a four-interception game against the New York Giants.

Yet Keenum does have the physical tools to be a successful NFL quarterback. Still relatively young at age 29, Keenum can be molded into a serviceable starter if needed. This may be especially true if he is given better receiving weapons than he has had to work with while with the Rams. The Jags offer those weapons in the form of receivers Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee, and tight end Julius Thomas.

Keenum’s potential may not be inspiring, but in the right spot it may be interesting to see what he can do. The Jags brass would have to think it would work better than what Henne could contribute, but Keenum’s addition wouldn’t be shocking if the calculus comes out in his favor.

NFL: Preaseason-New England Patriots at New York Giants

4) Ryan Nassib, quarterback, New York Giants

Jacksonville Jaguars executive vice president for football operations Tom Coughlin brought Ryan Nassib into the NFL, drafting him in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft while head coach of the New York Giants. Current Jags head coach Doug Marrone and current offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett had the same roles with Syracuse when Nassib was there.

To say there are connections for Nassib to come to Jacksonville would be an understatement. No other team, even the Giants, likely have as much of a connection to Nassib as the Jaguars do.

Still, that doesn’t mean this will be a lock. Nassib may not be an upgrade over Brandon Allen or Chad Henne, though he does represent a more known entity to the Jags front office and coaching staff. Whether he is the desirable young quarterback to push Blake Bortles remains to be seen.

First Coast News’ Mike Kaye makes a compelling case for Nassib and cites him as the veteran quarterback to pursue. Kaye knows that veteran is a generous term, though, even putting veteran in quotes. In his time with the Giants, Nassib has just 10 pass attempts. He has sat behind Eli Manning who is a winner through and through, but how much he has gained during his NFL tenure remains to be seen.

While Nassib makes logical sense in terms of connections to the Jaguars, it’s tough to imagine he’ll be the guy if the Jaguars want to bring someone in. He simply doesn’t have a real track record yet and the Jags would have to be certain he could be the guy if they brought him down to Florida.

NFL: Preseason-Carolina Panthers at Baltimore Ravens

5) Ryan Mallett, quarterback, Baltimore Ravens

Ryan Mallett’s career has taken some twists and turns after being one of the highly touted quarterbacks prior to the 2012 NFL Draft. He ultimately fell to the third round before the New England Patriots picked him and made him Tom Brady‘s backup. A quick trade to the Houston Texans, a missed flight after that, and Mallett was suddenly playing for the Baltimore Ravens.

Quarterback isn’t a major priority for the Ravens so it wouldn’t be shocking to see them move on from Mallett. He hasn’t been there long and Joe Flacco isn’t going anywhere. If Mallett wants to move up in the NFL he needs to find a place where he can step in after a struggling starter falters or he can enter a quarterback competition.

That makes a connection with the Jacksonville Jaguars a bit more appealing. While there’s no guarantee that Jacksonville would become just another chance for Mallett to sit behind another quarterback, opportunity hovers over the position.

Just 3-5 as a starter, Mallett hasn’t settled into a place where he can actually develop as a passer. He has thrown seven interceptions to 10 interceptions and has completed just 55 percent of his passes. When playing for the Ravens Mallett is 1-1 as a starter and has 59.8 percent of his passes for two touchdowns and two interceptions, suggesting he may be a better quarterback with a stronger supporting cast.

RELATED: BRANDON ALLEN MAY BE THE FUTURE FOR THE JAGUARS AT QUARTERBACK

If Mallett can do some damage with gifted receivers, he may find a comfortable home with the Jags. There’s no guarantee he’ll actually be anything more than a backup again, but he does have the opportunity to become something more if he can prove that he can make plays with guys like Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns.

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