Joe Burrow 'Waiting to See' About COVID-19 Before Signing Bengals ContractMay 8, 2020
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said on the Pardon My Take podcast that he is waiting to sign his rookie contract in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"We're just waiting to see what happens over the next three months because we really don't know," Burrow said (h/t Ben Baby of ESPN).
The Bengals took the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner and ex-LSU signal-caller first overall in the 2020 NFL draft. Per Joel Corry of CBS Sports, Burrow's deal is expected to be worth $36,190,137 over four years.
NFL draft picks aren't signing their deals en masse. ESPN's David Newton reported Friday that defensive tackle Derrick Brown, whom the Carolina Panthers took seventh overall, became the first first-rounder to ink his deal.
Ryan Young of Yahoo Sports also gave more insight into the league's uncertain near-term future amid the COVID-19 pandemic:
"The NFL has said that it plans to start the 2020 season on time in September, and even released the full schedule on Thursday night. However with team facilities still closed, no vaccine for the virus and testing still not readily available, the season this fall could look drastically different—potentially with a delayed start, games without fans or being canceled altogether.
"It's easy to see why teams would want to hold off on officially signing high-profile picks amid that uncertainty. The coronavirus pandemic could significantly impact their revenue stream this fall, with a loss of stadium and ticket revenue, altered TV deals and more being very real possibilities."
The league has some backup plans to save it some time if COVID-19 does force a delayed start to the year, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Of note, earlier weeks on the ledger could be pushed past the currently scheduled Week 17, which is slated for January 3. Super Bowl LV, scheduled for February 7, could also be moved back. And every Week 2 opponent has the same bye week, creating an extra spot for that game to reside.
Still, so much is unknown about the near-term future of the NFL and other sports worldwide as the coronavirus continues to spread, and that makes Burrow's decision to hold off on signing his contract understandable.