METAIRIE, La. — The New Orleans Saints are signing Blake Bortles, a source confirmed to ESPN on Friday, adding the veteran quarterback for depth after losing Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian to the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Bortles will back up rookie Ian Book, who is expected to make his NFL debut Monday night against the Miami Dolphins.
The 29-year-old Bortles spent his first five seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars after being selected with the third overall pick in the 2014 draft. Since then, he has bounced around the NFL, spending time with the Los Angeles Rams, Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers.
Bortles spent this past offseason with the Packers, then briefly re-signed with the team in November as a backup under similar circumstances when Aaron Rodgers was sidelined by COVID-19. He has not attempted a pass in an NFL game since he went 1-for-2 for 3 yards with the Rams in 2019.
The Saints have placed 11 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week, including starting safety Malcolm Jenkins and starting tight end Adam Trautman. They have also been missing coach Sean Payton since last Friday because of a positive COVID-19 test, although Payton is expected to be back before Monday’s game.
NOLA.com first reported on Bortles’ signing.
Book, who was drafted in the fourth round out of Notre Dame, would be the fifth quarterback to start for the Saints during the 2021 calendar year. Drew Brees retired after making two playoff starts in January, and Jameis Winston suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Week 8 before Siemian and Hill took turns replacing him.
As a result of that attrition, the Saints rank an uncharacteristic 30th in the NFL this season with 194.6 passing yards per game and last with a completion percentage of 57.4.
Book, 23, went 30-5 as a starter at Notre Dame, finishing with the most wins in school history. He went lower in the draft, in part because he is just 6 feet tall. But his mobility and ability to make plays when the pocket breaks down were among his calling cards at Notre Dame.
No matter what happens at quarterback, the Saints will rely heavily on a defense that became the first in 15 years to shut out Tom Brady in Sunday’s 9-0 win at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.