As Joe Burrow and Bengals gear up for extension, here’s why QB has shot to become NFL’s highest-paid player

As Joe Burrow and Bengals gear up for extension, here’s why QB has shot to become NFL’s highest-paid player

NFL Media reported ahead of a divisional playoff game against the Bills that the Bengals are targeting quarterback Joe Burrow, the 2020 first overall pick, for a contract extension this offseason. As the 2020 draft pick, Burrow became eligible for a new deal on Jan. 9, the day after his third regular season ended.

“Yeah, I think it’s starting internally now,” Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said at Monday’s season-ending press conference when asked about a new contract with Burrow. The Bengals lost 23-20 to the Chiefs in Sunday’s AFC Championship game. Burrow is expected to earn $5,545,018 in 2023 on a salary cap of $11,515,043. The Bengals will surely pick their fifth-year option on Burrow for a fully guaranteed $29.504 million in 2024 before the May 2 deadline.

Fully guaranteed contract outlook

A fully guaranteed contract has been a big sticking point in AFC North Division rival Lamar Jackson’s negotiations with the Ravens. Jackson played on a fifth-year option this season due to his insistence on a completely secure deal similar to Deshaun Watson’s. The Browns, another AFC North rival, signed Watson to a fully guaranteed, five-year, $230 million deal as part of his trade from the Texans last March. The Watson contract is an anomaly as subsequent high-end quarterback contracts, particularly Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson’s respective five-year extensions with the Cardinals and Broncos, were not fully guaranteed.

Burrow will likely encounter strong resistance to a fully guaranteed contract, much like Jackson. The Bengals are in the dark ages when it comes to structuring contracts for veteran players. The only guaranteed money in Cincinnati veteran contracts is a signing bonus and roster bonus payable within days of signing.

The biggest deals contain a third or fifth day of the league year roster bonus in the second and third years. List premiums are meant to substitute for additional contractual warranties. Cincinnati’s overall contract guarantees are generally lower than comparable deals on other teams.

Adhering to a long-standing preferred contract structure will be problematic. It’s hard to imagine Burrow agreeing to a new deal where the only real guaranteed money is the first year when Murray and Wilson, the quarterback’s last two data points, have $103.3 million and $124 million entirely. guaranteed at signature. The respective overall guarantees in their contracts are $160 million and $161 million, while the biggest signing bonus ever awarded to an NFL player is Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott of $66 million. .

Expect the Bengals to set new contract precedent with Burrow like the Steelers did with rusher TJ Watt in 2021 on a four-year extension that made him the highest-paid non-quarterback in the league. The Steelers also declined to have traditional salary guarantees in veteran contracts until Watt’s. His fully guaranteed $80 million at signing was a record for non-quarterbacks.

The structure of the Packers contracts in the same way as the Bengals. The only exception was quarterback Aaron Rodgers. For example, Rodgers became the NFL’s first $50 million-a-year player last March on a contract widely believed to be $150.815 million over three years, although there are two more years below market ( 2025 and 2026) in the agreement. He set new standards for guaranteed money in football contracts with $150.665 million in total guarantees and $101.515 million fully guaranteed from signing until Watson’s fully guaranteed contract a few weeks later.

The Bengals are apparently preparing to give Burrow a contract with a conventional structure. The Paul Brown Stadium naming rights were sold to Paycor, a Cincinnati-based company specializing in human resources software last August. The deal is for 16 years. Additional team sponsors have also been added.

These measures will make it easier for the Bengals to comply with archaic NFL funding requirements that are expected to come into play for a Burrow contract. Teams are essentially required to deposit in an escrow account the amount of all guarantees in a contract other than those just for injuries, including those for future contract years.

Become the highest paid player in the NFL

Burrow becoming the NFL’s highest paid player should be a different story from a fully guaranteed contract. The Bengals placed 2003 No. 1 pick Carson Palmer at the top of the league’s salary pecking order when he signed a six-year extension averaging $16,166,167 a year just before the end of his third regular season in 2005. Rookie contracts could be extended after two years back. afterwards.

Burrow has better reasons to be the highest paid player in the league than Palmer. Palmer was finishing a breakout season in which he earned Pro Bowl honors by leading the NFL in completion percentage (67.8%) and with 32 touchdown passes. His passer rating of 101.2 was second in the league. The Bengals ended a playoff drought dating back to the 1990 season by winning the AFC North with an 11-5 record.

Burrow has placed himself in the best quarterback conversation in the league with his consistent play over the past two seasons. He led the NFL in a 70.4 completion percentage while throwing for 4,611 yards and 34 touchdowns to post a 108.3 passer rating in 2021. The Bengals ended a 31-year drought in playoffs before losing to the Rams in Super Bowl LVI.

Burrow earned his first Pro Bowl selection this season while throwing a career-high 35 touchdown passes. He had 4,475 passing yards and a passer rating of 100.8. Cincinnati’s five playoff wins over the past two seasons with Burrow under center are as many as the 55-year-old franchise has had in the first 52 seasons.

Burrow should consider insisting on an extension of no more than four years to be best positioned for the expected significant salary cap growth in the coming years, thanks to new media rights deals worth $113 billion. over 11 years and an influx of playing revenue. Four more years was the most common length for high-end quarterback contracts, especially with first-round extensions, before the Chiefs signed Patrick Mahomes for a 10-year extension in 2020 when he had two years left on his rookie contract. Jared Goff and Carson Wentz signed four-year extensions with the Rams and Eagles respectively in 2019 with two years remaining on their rookie contracts. The first big quarterback deal after Mahomes was Watson’s four-year extension with the Texans when he also had two years left on his rookie contract.

Burrow is expected to make the second most important guarantee behind Watson’s $230 million a requirement in a contract that adds at least four more years. Wilson is currently second with $124 million fully guaranteed at signing and $161 million in overall guarantees. Murray had $160 million guaranteed injury at signing which can become fully guaranteed at various dates during the contract. An additional $29.5 million in the final years of Murray’s contract, which is not guaranteed in the event of a signing injury, may also become fully secured to bring the total amount that can be guaranteed to $189.5. millions of dollars. The reported $133 million fully guaranteed in the offer that Jackson rejected before breaking off negotiations shortly before the start of the regular season can also be factored into the equation.

It’s a matter of when, not if, Burrow will be the highest-paid player in the league provided he’s willing to exploit his leverage. As long as Rodgers’ $50,271,667 a year remains the norm, it wouldn’t be surprising if Burrow’s new contract topped $52.5 million a year. An average annual salary of $52.5 million would represent less than a 5% increase over Rodgers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *