Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson and Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen were both selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, but that’s not all they share in common.
After the Cleveland Browns traded Baker Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday, Jackson and Allen have become the only two first-round quarterbacks from the 2018 draft to stay with their original teams.
Jackson, the 32nd overall pick by Baltimore, and Allen, the 7th overall pick by Buffalo, have risen to fame throughout the last four years, each embodying franchise quarterback potential and each widely considered an elite signal-caller in the modern NFL.
In 2021, Allen signed a six-year contract with the Bills that included $150 million in guaranteed money, which at the time marked the most guaranteed money in a single contract that any NFL player has ever received in history.
Though Jackson has yet to secure his bag, the Ravens don’t seem to be too worried about holding on to their quarterback of the future, and both sides should be able to cement a deal by next offseason at the latest.
Both Jackson and Allen have gotten or are due for huge paydays. The rest of the 2018 quarterback class? Not so much.
Ravens’ Lamar Jackson and Bills’ Josh Allen are the only 2018 first-round QBs still on their original teams
Baker Mayfield, originally drafted by the Browns as the first overall pick, was recently sent to Carolina where he joins Sam Darnold, the third overall pick by the New York Jets.
Mayfield will likely win the starting quarterback spot with Darnold serving as his backup, though Darnold will still make roughly $19 million this year unless he gets traded by the end of the offseason.
The Panthers quarterback conundrum reflects how poorly Carolina has handled their contracts in recent years, as the Panthers also have rookie QB Matt Corral and 2021 backup P.J. Walker rostered on the depth chart.
In any case, neither Mayfield nor Darnold, the first two quarterbacks of the 2018 draft, have airtight futures with the Panthers franchise and will each be fighting for their respective careers in 2022.
The 10th overall pick in 2018, Josh Rosen, suffered the worst fate of them all after never living up to expectations in his rookie year in Arizona. The Cardinals will want that pick back, badly.
That leaves Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson as arguably the only two proven quarterbacks from their draft class. Between the two, Allen boasts the better arm and better career overall, having recorded more than 4,400 passing yards and having led Buffalo to the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.
Whereas Allen is just entering his prime, Jackson is coming off a disappointing slump that saw him throw 16 touchdowns against 13 interceptions and miss a long stretch of the 2021 season due to injury.
One could make the argument that Jackson changed the Ravens franchise as much as Allen changed the Bills franchise, but Baltimore will need to see much more from the 2019 league MVP to return to winning ways in 2022.
Barring a superhuman performance from Baker Mayfield this season, Jackson and Allen stand out as two bonafide franchise stars from their draft class and have rightfully joined the elite quarterback conversation. The only question now is: who will outdo whom this season?