Despite their heartbreaking Super Bowl loss, the vibes are pretty solid for the Cincinnati Bengals these days. After years and years of navigating through NFL purgatory, they finally landed themselves a true franchise quarterback in Joe Burrow. That’s the biggest challenge to overcome in the NFL, and the Bengals hit the ball out of the park with their Burrow selection.
Not only is Burrow one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL, but he also has the necessary swagger and charisma to lead a small-market team. He was mutch-watch TV by the time the 2021 season came to a close, bringing eyes to the Bengals franchise.
Deshaun Watson just shattered the previous market precedent
Contracts were already starting to balloon up in value this offseason. Wide receivers Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, and Christian Kirk all got massive deals that the NFL has yet to see the likes of when it comes to wide receivers. Xavien Howard broke the previous AAV record for cornerbacks. Aaron Rodgers cashed out with a massive new extension from the Green Bay Packers.
However, it was the Browns’ extension with Deshaun Watson that turned heads around the NFL. Not only did they fork over $230 million for a player who may or may not be getting suspended, but they forked over $230 million in guaranteed money.
Yes, you read that correctly. Every penny of Watson’s $230 million extension with the Browns is guaranteed. Cleveland can’t “restructure” its way out of the deal if things go poorly in a year or two. The Browns are married to Watson.
This is a level of financial commitment the NFL has not seen, and it has the potential to completely change how players negotiate with front offices moving forward.
Joe Burrow can demand even more money from the Bengals
The next quarterback extension that needs to get taken care of in the AFC North is Lamar Jackson’s with the Baltimore Ravens. However, the previously mentioned Burrow isn’t that far behind himself.
Burrow will be eligible for an extension next year and is in one of the best positions possible when it comes to leverage. The Bengals were the worst team in the NFL before he arrived. Now, they’re reigning AFC champions with a chance to contend for the Super Bowl again moving forward.
Burrow has an absurd amount of leverage, and Watson just set a brand new precedent for guaranteed money for quarterbacks.
Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn has already admitted Watson’s recent contract is a likely hurdle to a long-term extension with Burrow. She also acknowledged the Bengals’ historical lack of desire to spend large chunks of guaranteed money — not exactly what their fans want to be hearing right now.
The Bengals need to fork over the cash for Joe Burrow
As much as it may pain the owner to do so, the Bengals need to be willing to offer whatever it takes to keep Burrow in town for the long haul. Losing him to free agency would be a disastrous outcome for the franchise and its fan base — really hammering home the idea that Cincinnati is a smaller market unable to retain star talent.
The Bengals will likely have to beat Watson’s $230 million guaranteed number to retain Burrow. That’s a lot of money to commit to a player who’s already suffered one torn ACL. However, it’s the price teams have to pay for franchise quarterbacks.
Without Burrow, the Bengals would go right back to being one of the worst teams in the NFL.