The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement dramatically restricted the money made by the players taken at the top of the draft. A decade later, the contract given to the first overall pick still falls short of the value received by the last first overall pick of the pre-wage scale era.
On Monday, Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (the first overall pick in 2021) inked a four-year, $36.8 million. The full amount is guaranteed for skill, injury, and salary cap at signing. Eleven years ago, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (the first overall pick in 2010) signed a six-year, $78 million contract, with a maximum value of $86 million. Of that amount, $50 million was fully guaranteed at signing.
Per year, that’s $9.2 million for Lawrence. For Bradford, it was $13 million.
The Jaguars hold a fifth-year option for Lawrence. That amount depends on what happens over the next three years. Assuming the number comes in at $25 million in 2025 (which also assumes he doesn’t sign a new contract by then), that’s $12.36 million per year over five years.
There’s no reason to think the Jaguars won’t want to keep Lawrence beyond 2024. However, the fact that it’s an option gives the Jaguars protection against the possibility that things don’t work out.
In the first year of the 2011 CBA, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton signed a four-year, $22 million contract as the first overall pick. That’s an increase of 64 percent in just 10 years. But it’s still not quite where things were before 2011, even as the salary cap continues to grow and grow.