Mediocre NFL quarterback signs Max Verstappen-level contract

The most recent "highest paid player in NFL history" now has a contract that matches Max Verstappen's Red Bull deal in Formula 1.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Formula 1
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Formula 1 / Mark Thompson/GettyImages

The NFL quarterback whose average annual salary is set to become tied for the league lead just signed a contract that matches the deal on which three-time reigning Formula 1 world champion and current world championship leader Max Verstappen is competing with Red Bull.

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, whose rookie deal was set to expire at the end of the 2025 season after the team picked up his fifth-year option, signed a record-tying five-year, $275 million extension to keep him with the Florida franchise through the 2030 season.

While there are obviously different economics impacting the NFL and Formula 1, the highest paid athletes in each have tended to have similar salaries in recent years.

Having said that, the fact that it's Lawrence, of all people, who finds himself in this position is a bit of a head-scratcher.

Lawrence, Verstappen have matching league-leading salaries

In terms of average salary, Lawrence is tied atop the NFL with Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who led his team to a Super Bowl three seasons ago and another AFC Championship Game two seasons ago before a season-ending injury derailed a promising 2023 campaign.

Including this salary tie, Lawrence is now the sixth different quarterback to be the "highest paid player in NFL history" at some point since last NFL offseason, and he probably won't be the last when you look at which other (better) quarterbacks are still due for extensions.

I've talked about the overuse of the phrase "generational talent" a lot lately. Lawrence is a perfect example of that phrase becoming a cliche. He is, in every sense of the word, an average, maybe slightly above average, NFL quarterback. There has been a ton of hype since he was drafted first overall in 2021, and not a ton to show for it.

Nobody can ever justify him as a top quarterback without attaching the words "potential" or "upside" to the argument.

While he does have both, Lawrence's extension comes after a season which saw him rank 17th among qualified passers in yards per attempt, 15th in touchdowns thrown, 23rd in QBR, and 23rd in passer rating. Only three quarterbacks threw more interceptions.

To be fair, he was tied in picks with Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback who has won three of the five most recent Super Bowls, though we cannot include that tidbit without also referencing the fact that Mahomes has an average annual salary that's $10 million less than Lawrence's.

This past season, the Jaguars found themselves as the No. 1 seed in the AFC during Week 13 at (8-3). They fell to (9-8), lost the AFC South title to the Houston Texans with an embarrassing performance to the lowly Tennessee Titans in the regular season's final week, and missed the playoffs entirely.

The disappointment of the 2023 season came after a solid 2022 season in which they won the AFC South for the first time since 2017 and overcame a 27-point deficit in a Super Wild Card Weekend against the Los Angeles Chargers, led by the since-fired head coach Brandon Staley.

Lawrence was then outdueled by a one-legged Mahomes and an about-to-retire backup in Chad Henne during the Divisional Round.

Verstappen, on the other hand, literally is a generational talent. He finds himself in third place on the all-time Formula 1 wins list with 60 victories, including 40 since the start of the 2022 season alone, at the age of 26. In 2022 and 2023, he won a total of 34 races, a total no driver had ever managed over any three-year stretch.

Championship leader being ignored in Formula 1 driver market. Championship leader being ignored in Formula 1 driver market. dark. Next

Verstappen signed his five-year, $275 million contract with Red Bull, where he has competed full-time since 2016, ahead of the 2022 season, which was the penultimate year on his existing deal. Though there have been rumors of a certain rival team trying to poach him from the drinks team, the Dutchman is under contract to remain with the team through the 2028 season.