PerspectivesCole Pepper Jacksonville Today Contributor
Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 25 of 30 passes during the team's home opener in 2022. The Jaguars shut out the Indianapolis Colts 24-0, the team's first shutout since a win over the Colts on Dec. 13, 2018. | Will Brown, Jacksonville TodayJaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 25 of 30 passes during the team's home opener in 2022. The Jaguars shut out the Indianapolis Colts 24-0, the team's first shutout since a win over the Colts on Dec. 13, 2018. | Will Brown, Jacksonville Today
Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 25 of 30 passes during the team's home opener in 2022. The Jaguars shut out the Indianapolis Colts 24-0, the team's first shutout since a win over the Colts on Dec. 13, 2018. | Will Brown, Jacksonville Today

SPORTS | Trevor Lawrence’s big deal is coming

Published on May 28, 2024 at 1:22 pm
Jacksonville Today seeks to include a diverse set of perspectives that add context or unique insight to the news of the day. Regular opinion columnists are independent contractors who are not involved in news decisions. Want to submit your own column on a matter of public interest? Email pitches to jessica@jaxtoday.org.

There’s a huge decision to be made by the Jaguars’ decision makers and it’s coming very soon.

As quarterback Trevor Lawrence enters his fourth season in the NFL, the Jaguars have Lawrence signed up through the end of next season. But in the NFL, having a quarterback playing in the last year of his contract is a huge red flag.

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So, at some point before the 2024 season kicks off, the Jaguars have to sign Lawrence to a new deal. But how big of a deal?

Let’s start with the biggest quarterback contracts in the NFL today. The largest deal by average annual value is Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, who signed a deal last year worth $55 million per season. Burrow has been to one Super Bowl and made one Pro Bowl. Four other quarterbacks make an average of more than $50 million per year: Detroit’s Jared Goff, the Chargers’ Justin Herbert, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts. All of those contracts started last year or this year. Among the biggest deals in football, only Patrick Mahomes’ 10-year, $450 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs is older (2020 was the first season of that contract).

The other consideration is how much of a percentage of the salary cap the starting quarterback chews up. It is the most important position in football, and with those mega-deals, the contracts take up between 20% and 25% of the salary cap for a team. The salary cap for the 2024 season is set to be $255.4 million per team. If we use 22% as a baseline, Lawrence’s deal could be worth as much as $56.1 million per season.

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But should that be the standard?

Lawrence has yet to produce a full season of great quarterback play. In the second half of the 2022 season, he was terrific, throwing 15 touchdowns and just four interceptions as the Jaguars surged into the playoffs. Last season, Lawrence started well, statistically. He posted a quarterback rating of over 100 in six of the first 10 games of the season. But injuries derailed his season down the stretch. It wasn’t all Lawrence’s fault. The offensive line didn’t protect him, and he tried to play through the injuries until it was too much.

Internally, the Jaguars are very bullish on Lawrence. They love his leadership and his professionalism. They also want him to do a better job of taking care of the football. He fumbled 12 times last season, losing seven. Add that to his 14 interceptions thrown and Lawrence gave the ball away the third most of any quarterback in the NFL in 2023.

There is one more consideration. Once you sign a quarterback to a big contract, teams can access the “bank of the quarterback.” As long as the player is performing at a high level, teams can restructure the deal, provide the quarterback with a new signing bonus and push the salary cap hit out into the future, allowing for more players to be signed in free agency. The risk is that if the quarterback gets hurt or doesn’t live up to expectations, teams are putting a huge chunk of their salary cap space to a player who isn’t able to give a strong return on investment.

With a player like Mahomes, it’s not a problem. But Mahomes is the best in the league. So where to slot Lawrence?

Chances are, Lawrence will get something in the neighborhood of $50 million per year. It will be the biggest contract in Jaguars history and one of the biggest in NFL history.

After that, it will be up to Lawrence to show he is worth it. 


author image Jacksonville Today Contributor

Cole Pepper has covered sports in Jacksonville since 1996, most recently for News4Jax. He is currently broadcast director for Sporting Club Jacksonville and has called play-by-play for a number of teams, including the Suns, Tomcats, Jacksonville University, Sharks and The Bolles School football. He also served as the studio host for the Jaguars Radio Network.

author image Jacksonville Today Contributor

Cole Pepper has covered sports in Jacksonville since 1996, most recently for News4Jax. He is currently broadcast director for Sporting Club Jacksonville and has called play-by-play for a number of teams, including the Suns, Tomcats, Jacksonville University, Sharks and The Bolles School football. He also served as the studio host for the Jaguars Radio Network.


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