Burrow is now eligible to sign an extension to his rookie contract at any time. With this being his third year in the NFL, the Bengals still own his contract rights through the next two seasons, provided they pick up his fifth-year option, which is as near a certainty as you could imagine. That is only if they have to.
The option isn’t even a discussion if the Bengals and Burrow can come to terms on a contract extension, something owner Mike Brown seems intent on doing.
“He’s going to have a long career,” Brown said via ESPN’s Ben Baby. “We certainly want it to be here. I think his window will extend over his whole career. But there is the fact that when you don’t have to pay the quarterback some extraordinary amount, that leaves room to pay other players more and, therefore, you can keep more players that are good players.”
Wanting Burrow to remain a Bengal for his entire career is the easy part. Negotiating the contract could be a little tougher. Brown’s comments in the second half of the quote appear to show him hoping Burrow takes a bit of a hometown discount to keep other players around. Wide receiver Tee Higgins, who is eligible for a new contract as well, being one of them.
Some think Burrow will take that discount, allowing the team more flexibility to retain 2023 free agents, and to make sure they are in a position to retain Ja’Marr Chase when he becomes eligible for an extension following the 2023 season.
Others think Burrow sees the contracts given out to the likes of Deshaun Watson and Russel Wilson and will look to reset the quarterback market once again. Deals like those, though, tend to tie up a large chunk of a team’s cap space and make retaining other stars difficult.
There is always the option to work in large bonuses and guarantees, keeping the salary cap hit relatively low. We saw the Kansas City Chiefs do this with Patrick Mahomes. To do that, the teams need fluid cash to move into escrow accounts to cover guarantees. The cash fluidity of the Bengals to do such a contract has been debated, though nobody really knows whether they can or cannot manipulate the salary cap like some teams have in recent years.
Burrow has said he wants to spend his career in Cincinnati and Brown seems to be on the same page. The only thing left to do now is hammer out a deal.