CINCINNATI — Bengals team president Mike Brown knows a massive contract negotiation and potential paycheck for quarterback Joe Burrow is looming.
At the team’s annual media lunch Monday, Brown said he doesn’t know how it will all play out once Burrow is eligible for an extension. But Brown is confident in how he feels about the team’s franchise quarterback.
“I can tell you, we couldn’t be happier with Joe Burrow,” Brown said. “He’s everything you would want, especially for a quarterback in Cincinnati. Our goal will be to keep him here.”
Burrow, the 2020 top draft pick, overcame a serious left knee injury suffered during his rookie season to lead the Bengals to their first Super Bowl appearance in 33 years.
He completed 70% of his passes for 4,611 yards, 34 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Burrow is currently entering the third year of his rookie contract which averages $9.9 million a year, according to Roster Management System. Seven quarterbacks currently earn more than $40 million a year. These players also have an average of $141.9 million in guaranteed money.
“It’s crazy how many these guys are putting up, and I think it’s well deserved,” Burrow said in June when asked about recent deals with Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Cleveland’s Deshaun Watson. “All of these guys are playing at the top of their game. They get paid accordingly. But really, I haven’t thought about it much in the moment.”
The team will have the option to extend Burrow’s rookie contract for a year due to his status as a former first-round pick. However, Burrow and the rest of the league’s 2020 draft class will be eligible for extensions after this year.
“It’s a puzzle,” Brown said. “It just doesn’t fit perfectly. We’re going to have advantages. We’re going to sign guys who are essential to the team. And we’re going to lose guys.”
Bengals safety Jessie Bates is among those at risk of leaving. For the second year in a row, Bates and the team failed to agree on a long-term extension. Bates received the franchise tag in March but has yet to sign his offer and his availability for training camp remains uncertain, coach Zac Taylor said.
Burrow’s won’t be the only key contract up for debate before 2023. Wide receiver Tee Higgins will also be eligible for an extension. Wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, the NFL’s reigning offensive rookie of the year, can begin contract talks in 2024.
The Brown and Cincinnati front office knows it will have to account for Higgins, Chase and others currently on team-friendly deals.
But there’s no debating the team’s primary long-term business goal.
“Right now our obvious and biggest issue will be with our quarterback,” Brown said. “It’s not quite ready or ripe yet, but it’s just on the way. We see the train coming.”