The Jacksonville Jaguars are on the brink of making the playoffs for the second straight year, a feat they haven't achieved since 1996-1999. Also, they'll win the AFC South in consecutive seasons for the first time in team history if they beat the Tennessee Titans in Week 8. One big reason for their success is Trevor Lawrence, who's brought stability at the quarterback position.
Although Lawrence has regressed a bit this season, he's routinely played like a top-10 quarterback. It's fair to say that he's done enough to cement his place as the face of the franchise. Yet, Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report believes the Jags should decline the fifth-year option on his rookie deal.
"But Lawrence hasn't gotten it done. He's only just turned 24 and injuries have been a factor this season, but even when healthy the former Clemson star hasn't done enough to ensure he won't become another high-first-round bust.
Considering that he actually took a step backward on paper in a critical third season, the Jaguars should apply major pressure and take a bit of a risk by declining Lawrence's fifth-year option for 2025."
Gagnowm however, suggests the Jaguars use the franchise tag if Trevor Lawrence does respond in 2024, arguing that it's a much safer route.
"Not ideal, but one could argue that committing approximately $30 million to him for 2025 right now is much riskier than cutting off his rookie contract at the end of 2024"
Lawrence is eligible for a contract extension in 2024. Quarterback salaries are always on the rise, and based on the deals Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, and Jalen Hurts got, Lawrence could get one that pays him north of $55 million per year.
However, Jacksonville may want to wait to give him a new deal for at least one more year. Locking up the quarterback long-term should be one of the team's top priorities. They have ample time to get a deal done and the fifth-year option would give them an even bigger cushion to get a multi-year deal done.
Lawernce has indeed regressed after a successful 2022 season. This is why Gagnon brings up the idea of taking a wait-and-see approach. He's right Lawrence has been underwhelming at times. In particular, he struggled with turnovers during the Jaguars' four-game losing skid, 61.25 percent for 1,143 yards with seven touchdowns, four interceptions, and three lost fumbles.
That said, Steezy Treve has found himself trying to overcompensate for the team's shortcomings and it's easy to see him getting back on track if the front offices address the offensive line in the offseason, among other position groups.
The Jaguars are better off picking Trevor Lawrence's 5th year option
Gagnon makes some valid points, but his argument that Lawrence hasn't "done enough to ensure he won't become another first-round bust" is way off. The third-year quarterback can and needs to play better but there's a difference between "he's got room for improvement," and "he's on his way to bust town."
If Lawrence hadn't previously produced and led the Jaguars to a comeback win in the playoffs, Gagnon's case would be stronger. However, Lawrence is often putting the Jaguars in a position to win, and he's often the main reason they have a chance to begin with. It's a reasonable argument that Jacksonville should put off the decision to give him a contract extension, but not picking up his fifth-year option seems a tad too extreme.
This is especially true that the fifth-year option on Lawrence's rookie deal will cost around $21 million while the franchise tag for quarterbacks is currently $35 million. On the off chance the Jaguars change their mind and decide Lawrence is no longer the answer, they could rescind the option and let him hit the open market.
In the end, all signs point toward Trevor Lawrence getting an extension, and there doesn't seem to be enough incentives to decline his fifth-year option.