Joe Burrow Contract: Bengals Could Lose Superstar QB Because of Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson

 

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Cincinnati Bengals superstar quarterback Joe Burrow is nearly three years into his rookie deal after being the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. That means that as soon as this offseason, a massive Joe Burrow contract extension could be in order for the former LSU Tiger. The problem is the Bengals (with owner Mike Brown) have never been the most free-spending team in the NFL. In fact, many Bengals fans would argue the franchise is the “cheapest” in pro football. This was always going to become an issue when Burrow’s deal came up for renewal. However, with the recent contracts for Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Cleveland Browns signal-caller Deshaun Watson, Burrow’s toughest opponent in the coming years may be his own team.

A massive Joe Burrow contract extension is coming

As the No. 1 pick of the 2020 draft, the initial rookie-scale Joe Burrow contract was a four-year, $36,190,137 deal that is fully guaranteed. Over the life of the agreement, the annual average value (AAV) is $9.04 million per season, per Spotrac.

As Burrow is leading his team to the playoffs for the second-straight year this season, he is arguably the biggest value in football. With a base salary of $895,000 base salary, a prorated signing bonus payout of $5,970,025, and a roster bonus of $3,005,012, his cap hit is only $9,870,037 in 2022.

In 2023, his base, signing bonus, and roster bonuses are $1,010,000, $5,970,025, and $4,535,018, respectively, giving him a cap hit of $11,515,043.

The Bengals are well within their rights to let Burrow play out the last two seasons of his contract. In 2024, the team can pick up Burrow’s fifth-year option, which is now estimated at $28,049,000, according to OverTheCap, thanks to the QB making his first Pro Bowl in 2022. 

After that, the team could keep him through 2025 with the franchise tag. That would be a hefty payday, though. The 2023 QB exclusive franchise tag is projected at $45.248 million. By 2025, that number could be close to $50 million.

So, the question heading into this offseason becomes, are the Bengals willing to pony up the cash and hand out a Joe Burrow contract extension commensurate with the top QB deals in the NFL? Even if they are, players like Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, and Lamar Jackson have all made it more challenging in recent months. 

The Bengals are in a tough spot in light of recent QB extensions

CINCINNATI, OH – DECEMBER 11: Joe Burrow #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals stretches prior to an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns at Paycor Stadium on December 11, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

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