Jaguars Rule Out QB Trevor Lawrence For Week 17

Trevor Lawrence has played through knee and high ankle sprains this season, and the former No. 1 overall pick navigated concussion protocol to return last week. But the Jaguars quarterback’s iron-man start to his career will stop Sunday.

The Jags ruled out their starter for their Week 17 game against the Panthers. Lawrence is battling a sprained AC joint that forced him out of a Week 16 blowout loss to the Buccaneers. Despite the Jags’ recent swoon, they will not rush their franchise QB back to work. C.J. Beathard will take the reins against Carolina.

This comes at a crucial point for Jacksonville, which has lost its past three games to drop to 8-7 and into a three-way tie for first place in the AFC South. The losses have come after Lawrence suffered an ugly-looking injury against the Bengals, and while he made a surprising recovery in time to play through that high ankle sprain, his performance has suffered since that Monday-night sequence. The Bucs ran up a big lead on the Jags before Lawrence left the game due to his new shoulder injury.

Lawrence, 24, never missed a game due to injury at Clemson, either. The 2021 top pick missed two contests as a junior due to COVID-19. This AC joint issue will stop his 49-start streak in the NFL. Lawrence has not practiced this week. The Jags will rely on Beathard, in his third season with the team, to keep them afloat in the AFC playoff race.

While the much-hyped young talent has enjoyed moments that remind of his draft stock this season, it has not brought the breakthrough many expected. The Jaguars handing the play-calling reins to OC Press Taylor, after Doug Pederson called the shots last season, has produced a slight dip — from 10th to 13th — in both total and scoring offense. DVOA slots the Jags’ offense 15th; Lawrence ranks 13th in QBR. The 6-foot-6 signal-caller has thrown 12 interceptions and ranks third among QBs this season with 12 fumbles; he lost seven of those. Eight of Lawrence’s 19 turnovers have come in the past three games.

The Jaguars will have the opportunity to extend Lawrence in 2024, but with the fifth-year option allowing them to push his rookie contract through 2025, it is possible the team could press pause due to his rocky third season. Lawrence will still enter the 2024 season as the unquestioned Jags QB1, but the team has not taken off like many assumed it would following a late-season surge that culminated with the 27-point playoff rally.

Beathard, 30, has signed two contracts with the Jags. The Urban Meyer-year investment re-signed — on a two-year, $4.5MM deal — this offseason. The former third-round pick has not made a start since Week 17 of the 2020 season, a 273-yard showing in a narrow 49ers loss to the Seahawks. For his career, Beathard has made 12 starts; the 49ers went 2-10 in those games. He is a career 59.9% passer (6.9 yards per attempt).

Not only is Beathard now a central figure in the Jaguars’ hopes to repeat as division champions for the first time since the late 1990s, the 2-13 Panthers suddenly have a better chance to win — a development that could affect the 2024 draft order.

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