Three of the five quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft led their teams to the divisional playoffs this season.
Two—Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens and Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns—lost last weekend and are now technically entering the final year of their rookie contracts. The other—Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills—remains in the Super Bowl hunt as Buffalo prepares to play the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday's AFC Championship Game.
So while there's no chatter right now about Allen's contract for obvious reasons, the focus in Baltimore and Cleveland has already begun to shift to what the Ravens and Browns might do with Jackson and Mayfield, respectively.
"I'm very confident that [general manager] Eric [DeCosta] and those guys will do a great job of looking at that," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh told reporters at his end-of-season press conference. "Of course, absolutely, we want Lamar to sign a long-term deal and be with us. I'm totally certain that that's going to happen. When it happens, that's the details and that's what we've got to figure out."
"There will be plenty of time for those discussions with all the 2021 decisions," Browns GM Andrew Berry told reporters at his end-of-season presser. "I think it's probably just easier to say that I'm really pleased with Baker's performance, really pleased with what he's done this year. We wouldn't be here without his contributions."
Because Jackson was the league MVP as a sophomore in 2019, and because Allen has a chance to be MVP runner-up this year, those two would appear to have a serious edge over Mayfield, who made strides under new head coach Kevin Stefanski in 2020 but was inconsistent in his first two pro seasons and has yet to come close to a Pro Bowl, let alone MVP consideration.
Starting with that duo, let's look at what the future might hold financially for the sport's most promising and accomplished quarterbacks who have yet to sign long-term extensions.
What Should Jackson and Allen Expect?
Jackson and Allen (and Mayfield, but more on him in a moment) are exactly one year behind 2017 first-round quarterback success stories Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs and Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans, both of whom signed jaw-dropping long-term deals pretty much as soon as they were eligible to do so last offseason.