Doug Pederson: Trevor Lawrence ‘hopefully’ signs extension with Jaguars ‘sooner’ than later

The Jacksonville Jaguars entered offseason OTAs on Monday with a significant question looming over their upcoming season.

Will quarterback Trevor Lawrence start the season with a new contract extension in hand? The answer as of Monday remained uncertain. Head coach Doug Pederson attempted to shed some light when asked about the situation, but didn’t offer substantial insight.

“I know (Jaguars GM) Trent (Baalke) and (Lawrence’s) agent, they’ve continued to talk and will talk, and they’re working hard and tirelessly,” Pederson told reporters. “I’ve just got to coach Trevor and coach football, and hopefully it gets done, and it will.”

As he enters his fourth NFL season, Lawrence is eligible for an extension to his rookie contract. The Jaguars have picked up the fifth-year option that deal; he’s due $11.7 million this upcoming season and $25.7 million in 2025 via the team option.

While signing Lawrence to an extension is somewhat of a no-brainer, the nature of a would-be deal is less so. Coming out of Clemson, Lawrence was billed as close to a can’t-miss prospect as a quarterback can be. The Jaguars drafted him first overall in 2021 in one of the most coveted draft slots in recent NFL history.

Trevor Lawrence runs a drill at Jaguars OTAs on Monday. (David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Lawrence struggled in his first season (12 touchdowns, 17 interceptions) under the chaotic reign of then-head coach Urban Meyer. With Pederson at the helm in 2022, Lawrence started to deliver on that promise with a 25-touchdown, eight-interception campaign that resulted in a Pro Bowl berth and helped lead the Jaguars to the second round of the playoffs.

Then, in 2023, came unexpected regression. Lawrence’s touchdown-to-interception ratio dropped to 21-to-14, and the Jaguars collapsed from a 6-2 start to a 9-8 finish out of the playoffs. Lawrence no longer carries that can’t-miss aura, but is unquestionably a better-than-average NFL quarterback with the physical tools and upside to be great.

In a world where quarterback competence is scarce, it’s a status that demands a lucrative deal. The pressure to sign Lawrence to an extension is less so this offseason. If they don’t reach an agreement in 2024, the two sides have next offseason to figure one out. But signing one sooner than later has its advantages.

The market for quarterbacks will only go up. Locking in 2024 rates makes sense if the Jaguars feel they can reach a fair deal. Doing so could ultimately look like a bargain if Lawrence’s long-term performance comes close to meeting the hype. Getting a deal done now would also eliminate a season filled with speculation over Lawrence’s long-term future in Jacksonville.

“Obviously the sooner you get it done, right, it’s behind everybody, and now we focus on football, and so that’s not lingering and that’s not out there,” Pederson said Monday.

Baalke said in April that “we’ve had some great talks and great conversations” with Lawrence’s representation alongside a caveat: “you can’t force this stuff.” Lawrence, meanwhile, hasn’t said much publicly about negotiations. He was at OTAs Monday, but didn’t address media. He worked out without any braces or sleeves, a promising sign after an injury-plagued 2023 campaign that included a late-season high-ankle sprain.

For now, the focus can remain on that progress as the Jaguars look ahead to the season. But until a deal is done, the question about Lawrence’s long-term status will remain.

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