The Jaguars have a $19 million decision to make by March 14: keep quarterback Blake Bortles or release him to free up a boatload of salary cap space so the team can pursue other options.

Bortles helped lead the Jaguars to the AFC Championship Game earlier this month during a career year. He limited his mistakes and raised his completion percentage above 60 percent.

Still, there's a question as to whether or not the Jaguars could upgrade the quarterback position this offseason.

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Bortles' former University of Central Florida and current Jaguars teammate, Pro Bowl cornerback A.J. Bouye, is among those who hope the quarterback returns to Jacksonville for next season.

"I wish the best for him, and hopefully, he's back," Bouye said last week following Pro Bowl practice at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. "We have his option [for next season]."

Bortles' fifth-year option was picked up last May. The extra year is worth just over $19 million and is only guaranteed for injury.

The Jaguars will need to make a decision on Bortles' future before the first day of the league year in March. If Bortles is on the roster past that date, his entire salary will become fully guaranteed.

Bortles reportedly underwent right wrist surgery last week and the Jaguars can't cut him while he recovers from the injury.

Bortles was listed on the injury report throughout this past season. He was able to overcome the wrist injury in order to produce his best season in the NFL.

The injury wasn't the only thing that Bortles had to block out mentally.

He ignored the loud chorus of critics that bashed his ability. He also dismissed the insults offered up by opposing players.

Bortles' mental toughness helped the quarterback endear himself to the locker room.

"I was very impressed," Bouye said.

"He was able to tune down the noise and he stayed focused, he stayed positive, he was being a leader for that offense and he just kept working. His confidence just kept getting higher and higher and we really saw that coming into the Pittsburgh game in the playoffs and even in New England."

Bouye and Bortles played together at UCF. The cornerback left for the NFL one year before the quarterback was selected by the Jaguars.

They've known each other for a while and their Jacksonville reunion paid off this past season.

Bouye hopes they can relive that success next season.

"Yeah, of course," Bouye said, regarding his desire to see Bortles return to Jacksonville.

"I played with him, he's won us games. We can't control that everyone is going to talk about the past. There are going to be people that look at what happened this year - the good and the bad - at the end of the day it's not my decision, it's up to the front office. They have a lot of respect for Blake as a player too."

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.