He joins fellow early-round quarterbacks in Zach Wilson, Trey Lance and Mac Jones to remain unsigned at this late point in the offseason. Of the first-round quarterbacks, Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears is the only one to have signed on the dotted line.
So, what’s the hold up for Trevor Lawrence and other rookie signal callers? ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler focused on this recently, providing us with both a detailed and reasonable explanation for the stalemate.
“Lawrence’s contract is not done, it’s probably a bit of a standoff because with these rookie deals it’s about offset language in those third and fourth years,” Fowler noted (h/t Bleacher Report). “If somebody gets injured, then the offset language can play a part. I’m told Jacksonville hasn’t found a sweet spot yet. They haven’t relented on wanting the offset language in the deal. So that could mean that this takes a little bit of time for them to come to an agreement.”
One might think that the rookie wage scale, first initiated in 2011 and included in the 2020 collective bargaining agreement, would limit the number of contract stalemates.
To an extent, this has been the case. However, offset language has in the past played a role when it comes to rookies signing on the dotted line.
Trevor Lawrence contract and offset language
We’ll go ahead and give a brief overview of what this little-known term means for Lawrence and other rookie NFL players.
Offset language is taken into account if a player is released within the first four years of his NFL career. That is to say, during his rookie contract and ahead of a potential Year 5 team option. Given that all first-round rookie contracts are fully guaranteed, the lack of offset language would enable said player to receive his full salary even if he were released ahead of hitting free agency.
For Trevor Lawrence, this is no small thing. His projected contract is slated to be $36.7 million over four years — fully guaranteed. If the former Clemson quarterback were to agree to offset language, he’d potentially be set to lose out on roughly 20% of that guaranteed cash should the Jaguars release him after three seasons. It would then be all dependent on the contract Lawrence signed with another team following the 2023 campaign with the Jaguars being on the hook for the difference.
Historically, Jacksonville has not been one of the teams to require offset language for top picks. That has obviously changed with general manager Trent Baalke and new head coach Urban Meyer running the ship.
Even then, it seems highly unlikely that Trevor Lawrence won’t be signed on the dotted line ahead of the start of training camp late this month. Jacksonville took him No. 1 overall back in April. He will be the team’s starting quarterback come Week 1 against the Houston Texans.
It’s now all about getting the quarterback to sign on the dotted line in Duval. According to Fowler, that will likely come the closer to the start of camp.
The 6-foot-6 Lawrence is coming off a brilliant career with Clemson that saw him throw for 10,098 yards with 108 total touchdowns and just 17 interceptions. He’s seen as a generational quarterback prospect. There’s no reason to believe the signal caller won’t play out his entire rookie contract.