The young quarterback trio of Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson have dollar signs in their eyes and a Super-Bowl-sized hole in their pockets.
Those three quarterbacks, all of whom were first-round selections in the 2018 NFL draft, are already entering their fourth season. All, by the way, are also eligible to sign a contract extension in the coming months. If Jackson plays his cards right, he’ll have an excellent opportunity to cash in and make Allen and Mayfield’s dreams come true.
Jackson’s contract extension will likely set the market for Allen and Mayfield
The majority of professional athletes work with an agent to negotiate and sign contracts. Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP, isn’t a member of that club.
Jackson’s mother, Felicia Jones, worked as her son’s de facto agent for several years. Rather than hire an agent like Drew Rosenhaus to help represent him and secure a massive extension with the Ravens, the fourth-year quarterback is instead negotiating his own contract.
Without a legitimate and certified agent in the fold, Jackson is instead using his personal advisers. ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio, who practiced labor law for many years before focusing full-time on working in sports media, said NFL teams cannot negotiate with an agent who isn’t certified by the union.
Whatever Jackson receives in his contract will set the market for Allen and Mayfield. If the Ravens sign Jackson to a four-year extension containing $100 million in guaranteed money, then the other two quarterbacks — both of whom have traditional agents — will understandably demand more. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott received $95 million in guaranteed money when he signed an extension earlier this year.
Allen and Mayfield need to let Jackson sign his extension first
If Allen and Mayfield, along with their representatives, play their cards correctly, both stand to profit from Jackson’s risky decision to forego using a certified agent.
Jackson is going without legitimate representation, which could backfire at the negotiating table. In fact, he may wind up needing to settle for less money because an agent isn’t around to push back on any potential injury concerns regarding the quarterback’s run-heavy style.
It is worth noting Jackson hasn’t missed any time with an injury in three NFL seasons. However, the Ravens likely want to cut costs where they can with a quarterback who leaves himself open to hard hits by scrambling or running on designed-rushing plays. Allen missed four games as a rookie with an elbow injury but has remained healthy since then. Mayfield suffered two concussions in college but has hadn’t any notable injuries in the NFL.
Although Allen is an excellent runner in the Bills’ offense, he is also an exceptional passer with two playoff victories to his name. Mayfield, the first overall pick in 2018, has turned himself into a disciplined game-manager with a strong arm and terrific composure.
Neither should be in any rush to sign an extension, at least until Jackson officially inks his name on the Ravens’ proposed contract. Allen and Mayfield each had their fifth-year options selected earlier this year and are under contract through the end of the 2022 season.
Those three should dominate the AFC for years to come
The AFC belongs to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, at least until we’re proven otherwise. These three quarterbacks and their respective teams stand the best chance at watering the seeds of change.
As of July 2021, all three of their teams had excellent odds of winning Super Bowl 56. Allen and the Bills are at +1200 (bet $100 to win $1,300) after reaching the AFC championship game last season. Only the Chiefs (+500) and Buccaneers (+650) have higher odds.
Jackson and the Ravens are sixth at +1400. Mayfield and the Browns are right behind them at +1600, which on its own is an incredible feat for one of North America’s longest-suffering professional sports franchises.
Mahomes signed a 10-year, $503 million contract extension in 2020. Although the Big 3 from the 2018 draft likely won’t come anywhere close to reaching those numbers, we’ll see just how large their own extensions are when the time comes.