JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars did take a look at quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the offseason but never seriously considered signing the free agent.
"We did the study, the research, and we weren't interested," Jaguars executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin said Saturday afternoon shortly after the team announced its final cuts.
Coughlin, however, would not elaborate on why the team did not want to sign Kaepernick, declining to say if it was purely a football decision or if Kaepernick's social activism and the fervor surrounding his national anthem protest played a role.
"No, I'm not explaining it," Coughlin said. "I just said what it is."
Coughlin did say that Kaepernick wasn't the only external quarterback the Jaguars investigated, but the team decided not to bring in any competition for Blake Bortles and stuck with backups Chad Henne and Brandon Allen.
"The entire scouting operation, the personnel department has been totally engaged in research and study of other teams and their rosters [and] who may well come available and areas particularly where we have concerns and needs," Coughlin said. "So as you go through this whole process, it's your entire personnel department, of course coach [Doug] Marrone, and the entire coaching staff, [GM] Dave Caldwell, myself, so there's a lot of research and a lot of study that goes into this.
"You ask about quarterback, I mean, you're looking always for any player that can help your team get better. So it doesn't matter what position it is -- we've done some homework in all areas."
Bortles has struggled with turnovers throughout his three-year career (NFL-high 63 since he entered the league in 2014). Shortly after he was hired in early January, Coughlin put Bortles on notice that he needed to drastically cut down on his interceptions (51) and fumbles and become a more accurate passer (58.8 percent in his career).
Yet the team didn't bring in any outside competition in free agency or the draft, instead opting to add running back Leonard Fournette and committing to a run-first offense to take pressure off Bortles.
The No. 3 overall pick in 2014 looked good the first two days of training camp but then had a five-interception practice on Day 3 and was up and down after that. He had several other practices in which he threw multiple interceptions, and he also struggled on the second day of joint practices with New England, completing only 5 of 17 passes in 11-on-11 work against the Patriots.
Bortles was solid in the preseason opener against New England (3-for-5 for 16 yards with one dropped pass) but turned in a lackluster performance against Tampa Bay (8-of-13 for 65 yards). After the game Marrone announced that Bortles -- who had started every game since Week 4 of the 2014 season -- and Henne would compete for the starting job.
The team could have opted to add Kaepernick at that point to create even more competition, but the team again decided to stick with Bortles, Henne and Allen.
Marrone had hoped one of the quarterbacks would take command of the competition against Carolina last Thursday but neither was able to gain any separation. Henne completed 8 of 14 passes for 73 yards in the first half against the Panthers' first-team defense. He led the Jaguars to one touchdown and a field goal in five possessions with a lot of conservative throws but also was sacked three times.
Bortles played nearly the entire second half behind the first-team offensive line, but he was facing the Panthers' reserves. He completed 12 of 16 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown, but he also tried to squeeze a pass into Allen Hurns that got intercepted and returned to the Jaguars' 3-yard line. However, Bortles did lead the Jaguars to a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Two days later Marrone renamed Bortles the starter for the Sept. 10 season opener at Houston.