Will Trevor Lawrence's extension lead to success for Jaguars?

Damien Woody: Trevor Lawrence's next step is avoiding turnovers (1:02)

Damien Woody emphasizes the need for Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence to limit his turnovers this season. (1:02)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence has become one of the highest-paid players in NFL history. He agreed to a five-year, $275 million contract extension -- including $200 million in guarantees -- on Thursday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The contract ties Joe Burrow's deal as the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL in terms of annual salary.

The contract is the biggest in franchise history -- surpassing the five-year, $141.25 million deal ($88 million guaranteed) that outside linebacker Josh Allen signed in April.

The 2021 No. 1 overall pick is only the third quarterback the Jaguars have drafted to earn an extension, joining David Garrard (seven years, $69.4 million) in 2007 and Blake Bortles (three years, $54 million) in 2018. Only Lawrence and Bortles (No. 3 in 2014) were first-round picks.

After three seasons in the NFL, has Lawrence earned this contract? And with the contract out of the way, will he take the next step as an elite quarterback? We sort through the biggest questions.

Has Lawrence earned this contract?

If you look at what Lawrence has done in his career so far -- 20-30 record as a starter (plus 1-1 in the playoffs), 63.8% completions, 58 touchdown passes, 39 interceptions -- you might wonder why the Jaguars made him one of the highest-paid quarterbacks.

But the Jaguars aren't paying him entirely for what he has done so far. They're paying him because they believe he is going to play at a level that will consistently have them in contention for a Super Bowl, especially as he grows in coach Doug Pederson's offense.

Lawrence has shown flashes of being an elite quarterback over the last three seasons.

His rookie season was less than ideal, as he struggled with Urban Meyer as a head coach for less than a full season. Lawrence's NFL-high 17 interceptions and 3-13 record as the starter that year was understood as a microcosm of a larger team issue.

Lawrence then rebounded in a big way in 2022 with 25 touchdown passes and eight interceptions, leading the Jaguars to an AFC South title. In the playoffs, he put together one of the best comebacks in NFL history as the Jaguars rallied from a 27-0 deficit (set up partly by his four interceptions) to a 31-30 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers before losing to Kansas City in the divisional round.

And last season he took a step back. The Jaguars were 8-3 in 2023 and competing for the No. 1 seed in the AFC before Lawrence was beset with multiple injuries over the final six weeks of the season: a right high ankle sprain, a concussion and a shoulder sprain. The Jaguars went 1-5 in that stretch (he missed one game), and Lawrence didn't fully participate in a practice after Dec. 15. He also finished third in the NFL in turnovers last season (21) and has 60 in his first three seasons.

But there is a stretch between the 2022 and 2023 seasons that shows the potential the Jaguars see in Lawrence.

In a 17-game span from Week 12 of 2022 through Week 11 of 2023, he threw for 4,161 yards and 23 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He ranked ninth in QBR, seventh in completion percentage, ninth in passing yards, and 12th in TD passes among all QBs over that span. Only one QB had more victories in that span than Lawrence (13): Jalen Hurts (14). Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff also won 13 games in that stretch.

Despite the ups and downs in his first three seasons Lawrence has led the Jaguars to 20 victories, 17 of which have come in the past two seasons. That might not sound impressive, but the Jaguars had won just 12 games in the three seasons prior to his arrival and started six QBs in those 48 games: Bortles (3-9), Cody Kessler (2-2), Nick Foles (0-4), Gardner Minshew (7-13), Mike Glennon (0-5) and Jake Luton (0-3).

This will be Lawrence's third season in Pederson's offense. Lawrence's growth in the system and as a leader are signs that the 24-year-old could be headed for a breakout season.

"He's becoming the vocal leader in the locker room, on the field, in meetings," Pederson said. "He's engaging. When we got him three years ago, he was just learning our system and kind of quiet and just trying to go through the motions a little bit of just trying to adapt to us and get a feel for us. Now he's engaging and giving us ideas. Now he's giving us suggestions and ideas and really becoming another coach, a set of eyes on the field."

That Lawrence didn't have the breakout season -- for various reasons -- in 2023 doesn't mean he's behind in his development, Pederson said.

"I learned this back when I went to Green Bay as a player under Mike Holmgren: It takes three to four years," Pederson said. "It takes that time to develop into the quarterback that you want to become or you want for your team. And it's just not an overnight deal. It's not a plug-and-play deal. Some teams, some guys are going to have success, but there is that just understanding the game and learning the game and studying the game.

"It's the encouraging part as an offensive staff and just myself now going into that third year [with Lawrence]. This is kind of this jump year that he can have moving forward."

What does Lawrence need to do now that he got paid?

Pederson has said his top two priorities for Lawrence going into his fourth season -- regardless of how much money Lawrence will be making -- are cutting down on turnovers and getting better at situational football.

There are only 11 quarterbacks who have made their debut since 1978 that have turned the ball over more than Lawrence (60) in their first three seasons, per Elias Sports Bureau. There are three Hall of Famers on the list -- Warren Moon (73, tied with Steve DeBerg for the most), Peyton Manning (64) and John Elway (61) -- but so are Vinny Testaverde (72), Jake Plummer (70) and Mark Sanchez (63).

"It's the biggest thing that he has to focus on moving forward," Pederson said at his end-of-season news conference. "We just can't have this amount of turnovers. How we turn the ball over, where we turn the ball over, it doesn't matter. We've got to protect the football. That's the No. 1 thing.

"For the quarterback, the person that touches the ball every snap, we got to make sure the emphasis is taking care of the ball."

Situational football is things like taking the safer or easier throw on third down; sliding or getting down to avoid injury; throwing the ball away if no one is open; and understanding the offense is in field goal range and not jeopardizing the possibility of three points with poor ball security or by attempting an ill-advised throw.

All of which, Pederson said, will be helped by a fuller understanding of the offense now that Lawrence is in his third season in the system, as well as taking a bigger role in adapting the system to his strengths.

"Continuing to understand our offense, get better with the scheme [is the next step for Lawrence]," Pederson said at the scouting combine. "Really, still put more of an impact to his voice on our offense. He's the one out there executing and calling the plays, so I want him to speak up and really take ownership in that with us.

"The situational part of football, too, just understanding game situations, managing the game in a certain way at certain times throughout the course of the game. Those are all areas that we can continue as a staff to assist him and help him get to where he wants to be."

Is the Jaguars' offense set up for long-term success?

The Jaguars' key offensive players are all under contract for at least the next two seasons: Running back Travis Etienne Jr., tight end Evan Engram and receiver Christian Kirk are locked in through the 2025 season. Receiver Gabe Davis is locked in through the 2026 season. Engram and Kirk are also candidates for restructuring, which could keep them around even longer.

That group has been the core of an offense that finished in the top 13 in total yards, passing yards and points per game in each of the past two seasons.

Plus, the Jaguars' offense will get a boost from rookie receiver Brian Thomas Jr., selected at No. 23 in April, and second-year receiver Parker Washington, who has been one of the standouts at OTAs and minicamp.

The skill positions are in good shape, and as long as the offensive line issues that plagued the team in 2023 -- injuries, poor interior play -- don't linger, there's no reason the offense can't consistently be a top-10 unit, especially if Lawrence makes the jump that Pederson referenced.