Following Josh Allen’s massive six-year extension worth upwards of $258M with $150M (!) in guaranteed cash, the willingness and urge to lock up two fellow gun-slingers from the 2018 draft class has now provided a hitch in typical offseason proceedings as teams attempt to prepare the masses for a fast-approaching 17-game campaign. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the $150M in guaranteed money became the most valuable deal in NFL history, trumping Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, whose deal includes $141.5 million guaranteed.
For the Cleveland Browns’ Baker Mayfield and Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, Allen’s deal has provided a poster on the wall as a skeleton structure to potentially build their future deals around. It begs the question, will Cleveland general manager Andrew Berry or Baltimore’s Eric DeCosta be willing to pay up?
While Mayfield has surely opened eyes in Cleveland since his arrival as the No. 1 overall selection ahead of Allen and Jackson a tick over three years ago, his accomplishments and success simply have not compared to the prior mentioned signal-callers, leaving much to be answered entering his fourth season as a Brown.
While many have begun banging at the door of Berry to come to terms on a long-term extension with Mayfield, who’s is locked up for the next two seasons contractually, the quarterback’s current stance on hammering down a new deal has become one of unnecessary proportion in his eyes, as his focus is solely set on Week 1.
"I've bet on myself my whole life," Mayfield said. "I've always taken it one day at a time, one play at a time. Like I said, I'm not going to handle it any differently now. I’m worried about winning right now, I do not know the timeline on it. We have not talked about it because I am worried about winning this season.”
For Jackson, one of the league’s most electric talents and 2019 Most Valuable Player, a similar halt in negotiations has introduced a bevy of questions to head coach John Harbaugh, who failed to mince words when asked on the current status of negotiations with his All-Pro dual-threat dynamo.
“There’s really not a hurry for us, he [Jackson] is going to be our quarterback for years to come,” Harbaugh said recently.
And while that’s a fine explanation in the grand scheme of current offseason proceedings, job security is few and far between in the league as it stands today. Long story short, lock Jackson up.
Similar to Mayfield, Jackson is locked up for the forthcoming season after DeCosta and the Ravens, to no surprise, picked up his fifth-year option. And while Jackson failed to replicate his 2019 MVP season last fall, a massive payday is in line for a talent under center the Sunday landscape hasn’t seen since the days of Michael Vick in Atlanta.
The Ravens have multiple avenues to approach negotiations. If they falter, a franchise tag (or two) could be in line for Jackson. While the label of the tag could crumble the relationship of the dynamic quarterback and Ravens brass, it buys time, and in turn, keeps Jackson on the turf.
Over the years, we’ve seen the value of the dollar rapidly decrease in NFL facilities. Half-billion-dollar contracts, Allen’s $150M in guaranteed money, these are herculean numbers that have simply set the quarterback market on fire as teams scramble to find an answer at QB1. For Jackson and Mayfield, two of the league’s soon-to-be extended talents, the market has become a playground for monetary gain, ignoring the success, or lack thereof on Sunday.
A ceiling has yet to be placed on the true value of a productive quarterback, and how, in fact, organizations will go about “keeping up with the Jones’” to satisfy their inherent wants and needs. Time will ultimately prove as the solvent on where exactly the commas end on two of the AFC North’s premier signal-callers, but if it’s anyone's guess, a hefty payday remains inbound for both as they duke it out for the division crown for years to come.
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