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Lamar Jackson vs. Baker Mayfield: The Battle for the North

This Sunday night, all eyes will be on Baltimore as two 2018 first-round QBs log the most recent chapter in their rivalry matchup and vie for the No. 1 spot in the AFC North.

Football Night in America is heading to Baltimore on Sunday as the Ravens (7-4) are set to take on the Browns (6-5). The division rivals square off for top ranking, pitting two quarterbacks who are no strangers to one another.

On paper, Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield have a whole lot in common: Heisman winners, first-round 2018 draft picks, and the assumed future of their respective franchises. However, despite being part of the same conversation dating back to their college years, the two quarterbacks have rarely drawn direct comparisons.

In fact, a closer look reveals that they couldn’t be much different from one other.

From their playing style to their approach to business dealings, Baker and Lamar have each committed to diverging paths, which only bring them together in competition. And we can’t wait to see what this next chapter might bring.

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Taking the Field with the Shield

These two gunslingers have been chasing one another since their respective college days at Louisville and Oklahoma. Both QBs took home a Heisman Trophy for their collegiate efforts; Jackson became the youngest to ever do so in 2016, and Mayfield followed the next year as a redshirt senior. Notably, each player received Heisman votes in the other’s winning campaign.

Heading into the 2018 NFL Draft, both quarterbacks received monumental buzz in a year that drew five QBs in the first round alone.

The two showcased distinct playing styles, squelching any comparison of their games. Jackson was a true dual-threat, exhibiting prowess in the air and on the ground, but had lagged a bit in his junior campaign, while Baker was a mobile but ultimately pass-heavy QB coming off a huge senior season capped by the first of two straight Heismans by Oklahoma quarterbacks.

Ultimately, Jackson’s unique style blending a productive arm and uncommonly blazing speed for the position drew questions from teams about his sustainability in the league bumped home down to the final pick in the first round. Meanwhile, Baker beat out Josh Allen and Sam Darnold as the Browns set their sights on securing a franchise player to lead their offense.

Mayfield launched his NFL career with a bang, taking home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Since then, however, he has struggled to maintain the consistency that was once his calling card as he has also has been plagued by injuries.

Simultaneously, Lamar Jackson has set himself apart, emerging as one of the elite offensive players in the league. The last signal-caller picked in the first round has proven himself as the most productive of the lot to date; the All-Pro QB was a unanimous MVP pick in 2019 and has continued to dazzle fans with his dual-threat capabilities, never missing the playoffs in three tries.

Jackson vs. Mayfield career regular season stats comparison entering Week 12 (via Pro Football Reference)

Lamar vs. Baker by the Numbers

Lamar Jackson
  • Age: 24
  • Contract: Four years, $9,471,648
  • 2021 Salary: $1,771,588
  • NFL Record: 36-10
  • Total Yards: 13,077 Total (9,532 Passing; 3,545 Rushing)
  • TDs-INTs: 82-26
  • Records & Awards: 2016 Heisman Trophy, 2019 NFL MVP; 2019 All Pro, 2019 Pro Bowl, Number retired at Louisville
Baker Mayfield
  • Age: 26
  • Contract: Four years, $32,682,980
  • 2021 Salary: $5,106,770
  • NFL Record: 28-27
  • Total Yards: 13,807 Total(13,281 Passing; 526 Rushing)
  • TDs-INTs: 82-26
  • Records & Awards: 2017 Heisman Trophy, 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year 

Building a Brand

The two stars’ differences don’t end on the field. They each have taken starkly different approaches to building their personal brands.

It’s tough to turn on a television these days and not catch a commercial featuring Baker Mayfield. He stays busy off the field, following in the footsteps of Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady. Mayfield serves as the face of various brands, including Progressive Insurance, BodyArmor, and Nissan. He’s also picked up additional endorsements from Amazon, Hulu, Nike, and Panini America.

In contrast, Lamar Jackson signed with Oakley in 2020 and additionally has a deal with Bose, but has invested the majority of his efforts off the field into building his own brand, Era 8 Apparel.

Despite a comparatively limited public presence, Jackson is winning the social following battle, boasting 2.9 million Instagram followers compared to Mayfield’s 1.7 million.

Looking to the Future

Both quarterbacks are in a contract year. Baker is at the end of his four-year, $32.7 million rookie deal, and while he was fully expected to lock in an extension with the Browns by now, his struggles both on the field and staying healthy have begun to cast that into some question.

Meanwhile, Lamar is playing an interesting game with his future. He is just one of 17 players in the league who does not work with an agent. He has assembled a group of trusted advisors, led by his mother.

Regardless, he is expected to lock in one of the league’s top contracts. He is expected to follow in the footsteps of his contemporaries, including Dak Prescott, Josh Allen, and Patrick Mahomes. Many questions loom if he will take a shorter-term deal that will allow him the flexibility to make changes in time or if he will follow in the footsteps of Allen and Mahomes and lock in his future with the Ravens.

But up first, the Ravens seek to secure the top spot in the AFC North, and will be happy to have Jackson back under center after a “mystery illness” sidelined him last week. Mayfield hopes to right the ship for the Browns who have had an up-and-down season and are coming into the game having eeked out a close win over the league-worst Lions last week.

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