NFL Rumors: Some Question Bengals' Commitment to Structure of New Joe Burrow Contract

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 13, 2022

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 13: Joe Burrow #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks to pass against the Los Angeles Rams during Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

There is reportedly some skepticism within the NFL regarding whether Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown is willing to offer the type of contract needed to keep quarterback Joe Burrow in Cincinnati long-term.

According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, Brown is considered one of the NFL's most "conservative" owners, and some within the league are questioning if he will fall in line when it comes to the recent trend of quarterbacks receiving a ton of up-front and guaranteed money.

Given the sizable contracts that Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson have signed recently, Brown will likely have no choice but to follow suit if he wants to ensure Burrow is with the Bengals for years to come.

The Bengals used the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft on Burrow after he led LSU to an undefeated record and a national championship while also winning the Heisman Trophy.

Burrow has been everything the Bengals hoped for and more, as he took them to the Super Bowl in only his second NFL season.

The 25-year-old gunslinger's rookie season was cut short after 10 games because of a torn ACL and MCL, but he showed no ill effects in 2021, completing an NFL-high 70.4 percent of his passes for 4,611 yards, 34 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

With Burrow at the helm, the Bengals reached the playoffs for the first time since 2015, won a playoff game for the first time since 1990 and reached the Super Bowl for the first time since 1988.

Each of the 10 highest-paid players in the NFL on an annual basis are quarterbacks, and many of those contracts have been signed within the past two years.

Per Spotrac, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers leads the way with an average annual salary of $50.3 million. He's followed by Watson ($46.0 million), Mahomes ($45.0 million), Allen ($43.0 million) and Derek Carr ($40.5 million), who agreed to a three-year extension with the Las Vegas Raiders on Wednesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Teams also have to shell out significant guaranteed money for high-level quarterbacks, and that number continues to go up.

The entirety of the five-year, $230 million contract Watson signed with the Cleveland Browns this offseason after getting traded from the Houston Texans is guaranteed, marking the most guaranteed money in a contract in NFL history.

That is despite the fact that Watson didn't play at all last season and could face a suspension this season amid 22 civil lawsuits that have been filed against him by women who allege he sexually assaulted them or engaged in sexual misconduct during massage sessions.

Watson has never advanced beyond the divisional round of the playoffs either, which means Burrow could be in line for significantly more guaranteed money and a higher annual salary than Watson when the time comes for him to sign a new deal.

Burrow is signed through 2023, and the team has a fifth-year option for 2024. So nothing is imminent, but if the Bengals want to keep their superstar quarterback happy and in the fold, they will need to pony up in the not-too-distant future.