Trevor Lawrence hasn't lived up to the hype. The Jaguars still need to pay him big

It’s the season of giving, specifically when it comes to NFL teams trying to retain, or acquire, quarterback talent. The Falcons gave Kirk Cousins a contract worth roughly $45 million a year and the Lions most recently handed Jared Goff a deal that makes him the second-highest paid quarterback in the league. Those teams, the Lions more than the Falcons, have set the template for the next crop of young quarterbacks set to be paid.

One of the next players coming up is the Jaguars' Trevor Lawrence, who is set to be entrenched as the franchise quarterback for years to come. Lawrence has become a bit of a polarizing player due to how he was billed as an elite prospect. This remains a no-brainer deal for the Jaguars — Lawrence deserves this.

It’s easy to see why Lawrence has detractors. He was touted as a near-perfect prospect, ready to be a star NFL player from Day 1. That didn’t happen in the way many had hoped, partially because he was dealing with Urban Meyer as his head coach as a rookie. But he also had a steeper learning curve than anticipated.

Still, Lawrence is one of the shining examples of what it looks like for a good quarterback to play in a mediocre offense.

Lawrence has one of the more aggressive styles in the league. According to Sports Info Solutions, Lawrence ranked 12th in air yards per attempt last season (8.0) despite really having only one receiver who could separate on a consistent basis down the field. That receiver, Calvin Ridley, is now with the division rival Titans.

Lawrence’s touchdown to interception ratio isn’t great but he provides more on-field value than the basic stats show. He’s unafraid to take chances down the field, which results in some interceptions. That's what the Jaguars need under center with their current offensive makeup. It’s difficult to find Lawrence's level of skill and arm talent, even if he’s not the perfect quarterback yet.

The exciting part with signing Lawrence to an extension is that he does have room to grow while already being a playmaker who can carry the offense from time to time. He’ll definitely miss having the services of Ridley this season, but the Jaguars drafted LSU wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. in the back half of the first round and still have Christian Kirk and Evan Engram on the roster. It’s not the 49ers, but that should be a group good enough to to look competent in most weeks. It’s not a group that would fare well without the presence of a quarterback like Lawrence, which increases the importance of getting this deal done ASAP.

There’s a real possibility that Lawrence’s deal tops what the Lions gave Goff and brings him closer to challenging Joe Burrow as the highest-paid quarterback in the league. This is the cycle of the sport.

Lawrence has the long-term potential where any market-rate QB extension could feel like a steal in the near future. He turns 25 in October and there’s still untapped level of play that Lawrence is capable of. Whether or not head coach Doug Pederson and general manager Trent Baalke can build a Super Bowl-level roster is a whole different topic, but one thing is true — that’s impossible without Lawrence.

Ignore the noise whenever this contract comes through. Lawrence has earned it and the Jaguars would be foolish to go in an alternate path.