Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence, who now has three years of service time under his belt, is eligible for a contract extension. Our Sam Robinson, however, suggested at the end of December that Jacksonville may wait to enter into extension talks with the former No. 1 overall pick, who did not take the leap forward that many had anticipated when the 2023 season began. Jags GM Trent Baalke did not put a timetable on those dicussions, but he did imply that a new deal for Lawrence is not exactly at the top of the agenda at the moment.
“As far as Trevor and the long-term relationship with this team, there’s no doubt in that,” Baalke said at a press conference on Thursday (via Myles Simmons of Pro Football Talk). “We’re going to get something done at the appropriate time.”
The Jaguars will surely exercise Lawrence’s fifth-year option sometime before the May 2 deadline. That will lock in a fully-guaranteed salary of $21.98MM for the 2025 season, and when combined with the $1.06MM salary he is due to make in 2024, Jacksonville essentially has Lawrence under club control for two more years at an $11.5MM AAV. Even if the Clemson product is not yet a top tier signal-caller, that qualifies as excellent value.
When asked to assess Lawrence’s performance in 2023 and how to improve his production moving foreard, Baalke said, “I think Trevor had another learning year, right? Like we all do when we’re a third-year guy in this league. I think there are some areas he made great strides in. You look at this season, one thing we’ve got to do is we’ve got to — two things, it works both ways — we’ve got to do a better job of keeping him safe and protected and he’s got to do a better job of protecting himself.”
Baalke referenced the myriad injuries that Lawrence faced in his third year in the league, including a concussion, a knee sprain, an ankle sprain, and a sprained AC joint. Although Lawrence was able to play through the first three of those ailments, they certainly affected his performance, and the sprained AC joint forced him to sit out Jacksonville’s Week 17 contest against the Panthers. That was the first game that Lawrence had missed in his career.
In his final four games of the 2023 campaign, Lawrence failed to post a quarterback rating above 83.9 and completed 60% of his passes for seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. Jacksonville lost all four of those contests, including a Week 18 matchup with the 5-11 Titans that was meaningless for Tennessee but that would have put the Jaguars in the playoffs as AFC South champions if they had won it. In all, the Jags lost five of their last six games to drop them from contention for the conference’s top seed to a postseason non-participant (the only game the club won in that stretch was the Week 17 contest that Lawrence missed).
Now 24, Lawrence still has time to live up to the vast potential that made him such a coveted prospect when he entered the professional ranks. It may even be fair to write off his rookie season in 2021, which was spent primarily under the disastrous stewardship of then-HC Urban Meyer. Nonetheless, Baalke may want to see a step forward in 2024 before making any significant contractual decisions.
In 2023, Lawrence completed 65.6% of his passes for 4,016 yards and 21 TDs against 14 interceptions, good for a QB rating of 88.5. He did run for 339 yards on 70 carries (4.8 YPC), tallying four rushing touchdowns in the process.