Cincinnati Bengals News: QB Joe Burrow Talks Contract … Sort Of

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow didn't say much about his contract negotiations one day after Justin Herbert reset the market.

Shortly after the Los Angeles Chargers gave quarterback Justin Herbert a record-breaking five-year, $262.5 million contract Tuesday, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow did a televised interview with ESPN. The first question was the obvious one about where his contract negotiations stand.

“I’ve got nothing for you, my man,” Burrow told host Field Yates.

Wednesday, following the Bengals’ first training camp practice, Burrow’s go-to answer to a couple of questions about his contract was, “It gets done when it gets done.” Asked if the “when” matters to him, he replied, “Not particularly. I’m focused on getting a deal done that’s good for us, good for me, good for the team, and good for everybody.”

What Does Justin Herbert’s Contract Mean for Joe Burrow?

Herbert reset the market three months after Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson did, which was two days after Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts did. The expectation is that Burrow, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft who already has five playoff wins and a Super Bowl appearance, will leapfrog Herbert at some point before the start of the regular season.

Bengals owner and president Mike Brown and director of player personnel Duke Tobin stiff-armed all of the contract questions at Monday’s pre-camp media luncheon.

Hurts’ deal averaged $51 million per year and covered five years for $255 million with $110 fully guaranteed. Jackson’s came in at $52 million a year and also covered five years, with total compensation at $260 million and $185 guaranteed. Then Herbert landed at an average of $52 million per year, with $133.7 million of the $262.5 million guaranteed.

All of them are five years. Expect Burrow’s to be the same. You can also expect Burrow to top Herbert’s $52 million average annual salary. The bigger question is where the guaranteed money will land, given that the Bengals don’t typically construct contracts that way.

But removing team founder Paul Brown’s name from the stadium and selling the title rights to Paycor was done with the Burrow contract in mind. And the tsunami of corporate partnerships for a franchise that, prior to Burrow’s arrival, didn’t even have a pizza sponsor is helping the family-run organization stash enough cash to pay the escrow for whatever guaranteed number Burrow and the Bengals agree upon.

The Bengals gave left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. a franchise-record $31.1 million in guaranteed money in March. Burrow’s contract will dwarf that.

Burrow said he didn’t talk to Herbert while he was negotiating his deal, and he hasn’t talked to him since.

Herbert joins the club as the pact of silence between Burrow’s team and the Bengals front office remains firm.

“That’s the best way to do business,” Burrow said. “I’ll leave it at that.”

That’s the way the Bengals always have operated, marking just another reason why Burrow has been the perfect fit. And when it comes to the way the Bengals do business, history is always an important tell.

It was two years ago today that defensive end Sam Hubbard signed his second contract, a four-year, $40 million extension. But typically, these negotiations drone on well into camp. Here are the signing dates for the last eight players to sign big extensions ahead of the start of the regular season.

  • Joe Mixon: Sept. 2, 2020
  • Giovani Bernard: Sept. 3, 2019
  • Tyler Boyd: July 23, 2019
  • Alex Erickson: Aug. 28, 2018
  • Carlos Dunlap: Aug. 28, 2018
  • Geno Atkins: Aug. 28, 2018
  • Vontaze Burfict: Sept. 7, 2017

And then there was the ultimate deadline deal when the team signed A.J. Green to his extension about an hour before the team boarded the flight to Oakland for the season opener in 2015.

Burrow said he didn’t feel any pressure from a deadline.

“I’m able to focus on a lot of different things at different times. When it’s time to play football, I can focus on that. I think every situation is unique and every guy is unique, and every position is unique too. I think, personally, I feel in my position, I don’t want to waste any of these days that I have to get better.

“I’ve wasted enough days over the last two years with injuries, appendicitis, COVID year before that; I don’t want to get out of camp wishing I had seven more days that I could have got better. So that’s the reason I’m here. Maybe business comes first at some point, but I need these days to be my best.”

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