Ahead of his attempt to build off the Bills' 2020 run to the AFC Championship, Josh Allen has cashed in with a reported six-year extension worth $258 million, making him the NFL's second-highest-paid quarterback behind only Patrick Mahomes. Now all eyes are on Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield, the two remaining 2018 first-round QBs still eligible for extensions. How does Allen's lucrative deal affect future contracts for the Browns and Ravens signal-callers? It's safe to say that Jackson should benefit much more than Mayfield from the news, with a good chance of matching or even clearing Allen's $43M per-year payout.
After the Cowboys' Dak Prescott inked a new deal paying $40M per year earlier this offseason, Allen was immediately due to clear $40M per year on his own extension, considering he's enjoyed the most meteoric rise of his class's first-round QBs. The Bills star exploded for over 4,500 yards and 35 touchdown passes during a 2020 MVP candidacy, serving as one of the game's premiere play-makers at the position. When forecasting extensions for Mayfield and Jackson, however, only one of the other QBs falls in the same echelon: Jackson.
Mayfield has been the more voluminous passer over the course of his career, throwing 75 touchdowns and more than 240 yards per game compared to Jackson's 68 TDs and 154 yards per game. But everything else indicates Jackson, not Mayfield, is set to cash in as a top-five QB in terms of new money: The Ravens QB is younger (24 to Mayfield's 26), more victorious (30-7 career record compared to Mayfield's 23-22) and, most obviously, more electrifying as a pure talent.
Allen not only clearing $40M per year but approaching Mahomes' $45M per-year average makes it a near-certainty that Jackson will -- or should -- hold out for at least $43M per season, which is what Allen will get on his extension. He may not top Allen's $258M total, and it's important to note he and his mother, Felicia Jones, are negotiating the QB's deal rather than a traditional agent. But his athleticism has always made him likely to earn as much, if not more, than Allen on a new deal. Put it this way: Allen may be the superior passer, but Jackson is the NFL's closest thing to Mahomes in terms of physical gifts, and both he and the Ravens know it.
As for Mayfield? Allen's big-money deal may help, but it's still hard to foresee the Browns QB netting anything close to Allen/Jackson/Mahomes dollars, unless he postpones negotiations and takes another big step in 2021. The former No. 1 overall pick has adapted to Kevin Stefanski's playoff-caliber offense to show moxie as more of a game manager, but his trajectory has still been less clear than his 2018 first-round colleagues. Like earlier this summer, Mayfield still feels destined for more of a top-eight QB salary on a new deal, with a likely annual average of between $33-35M.