Joe Burrow Contract Extension: ‘I’m Pretty Clear on What I Want’

Joe Burrow is the next quarterback in line for a massive contract extension. Can the Cincinnati Bengals keep Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins together?

Joe Burrow is the next man up in the quarterback extension landscape. After Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson changed the top of the quarterback market with new contracts this offseason, Burrow can likely name his price with the Cincinnati Bengals. Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Burrow indicated that he’s actively participating in negotiations.

Joe Burrow Addresses Contract Extension Talks With Bengals

“I’m involved,” Burrow said. “That’s in the works. That’s not really something that I like to play out in the media. Just the way I think they want to do business, I want to do business. We prefer to keep that between us.”

Hurts briefly became the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback at $51 million per year, but Jackson landed $52 million annually from the Ravens just a few weeks later. Now, Burrow and Chargers QB Justin Herbert are competing to take the mantle of the league’s top-paid passer.

Burrow, who finished fourth in MVP voting after throwing for 4,475 yards and 35 touchdowns in 2022, will undoubtedly top both Hurts and Jackson. That’s the way extensions for premier players typically work — the next player in line for a new deal gets to reset the positional market.

But there is a question of form. For example, the Eagles used a complicated triple-option bonus structure with Hurts’ contract, which is designed to be restructured multiple times. Philadelphia tacked on seven void years to the end of Hurts’ deal to make it easier to rework down the line. Jackson’s extension with the Ravens is a little more traditional, but it also contains two option bonuses.

Then there’s Patrick Mahomes’ 10-year contract with the Chiefs. Mahomes signed a team-friendly deal with Kansas City that contains little in the way of early cash flows but does have a rolling guarantee structure that essentially makes Mahomes uncuttable.

“I sort of like how Mahomes said he doesn’t care about what those guys are getting,” Bengals owner Mike Brown said in 2022. “He’s set for life with what he’s got. And why isn’t that a good way to look at it, I’m thinking?”

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That wasn’t the only time Brown has referenced Mahomes’ deal. He’s repeatedly used the Chiefs quarterback’s extension as a talking point, and he’s left enough breadcrumbs to suggest that’s the type of deal he wants the Bengals and Burrow to ultimately work out.

“I’m pretty clear on what I want in the contract and what I think is best for myself and the team,” Burrow said Tuesday. “So we’re on the road to making that happen.”

Cincinnati has Burrow under contract through 2024 via his fifth-year option. On the one hand, that gives the Bengals time to hammer out an extension with their star quarterback. On the other, every day they wait gives the Chargers the opportunity to strike a deal with Herbert first — which Burrow would surely then top.

Recent extensions by Jackson, Hurts, Kyler Murray, Deshaun Watson, and Russell Wilson have set the typical quarterback contract length at five years. Burrow likely has his sights set on a $55 million annual value, placing a five-year deal’s total cost at $275 million.

Can the Bengals Keep Burrow and Their Young Offensive Core Together?

Burrow is the most important part of the Bengals’ offensive equation, but he’s not the only critical piece of a team that’s gone to two AFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl over the past two seasons.

Tee Higgins is scheduled to become a free agent in 2024. Cincinnati has a bit more team control over fellow receiver Ja’Marr Chase because he was a first-round pick, but he’ll be eligible for an extension as soon as the 2023 regular season concludes.

“Whenever you have guys on the team that need to be paid, that’s always on your mind,” Burrow said. “You want that to be a focal point, so we’re working to make that happen.”

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Only four NFL teams have two wide receivers making more than $15 million per season: the Raiders (Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow), the Seahawks (DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett), the Chargers (Keenan Allen and Mike Williams), and the Buccaneers (Mike Evans and Chris Godwin).

None of those teams are paying a quarterback more than $25 million annually, although Los Angeles will be in the near future. And Higgins and Chase will be earning more than $15 million — given how the wide receiver market has exploded, they’ll both be closer to $30 million per year.

Burrow could theoretically take less than he’s worth in order to help the Bengals retain their other key talent. But he’ll have to balance that goodwill against the concept of securing a massive contract and helping drag player salaries even higher.

“He’s not a big guy on money,” Chase said of Burrow on Tuesday. “He knows he’s the best quarterback in the league. He doesn’t need the money to prove that. He wants to look out for the people around him and keep the team around him.”

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