Joe Burrow's new contract estimate (using math)

The NFL is a quarterback driven league. It's what the rules favor, and it's what the fans generally like. And it means a team's most important asset on the field is their quarterback. There are 32 teams, but there are not 32 good quarterbacks. Since teams essentially need a very good quarterback to succeed, the law of supply & demand makes its presence felt, and great quarterbacks will get paid greatly. And even decent quarterbacks will get paid quite well.

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is slated to get a new contract this offseason, which raises speculation about how much his new contract will be worth. To estimate the value of this new contract, we can apply some math - essentially looking at the recent history of quarterback contracts, and applying it forward.


Over the past three years there have been 9 big money quarterback contracts we can use for reference:

  • 2020: P Mahomes ($450M / 10 yrs)
  • 2021: J Allen ($258M / 6 yrs), D Presscott ($160 / 4 yrs)
  • 2022: R Wilson ($243 / 5 yrs), K Murray ($231 / 5 yrs), D Watson ($230 / 5 yrs), M Stafford ($160 / 4 yrs), A Rodgers ($151 / 3 yrs), D Carr ($122 / 3 yrs)


In 2020 when Mahomes signed his contract the NFL salary cap was $198M, so his annual average of 45M per season was equivalent to 23% of that year's salary cap.

When you look at the other contracts, you'll notice this trend holds up. The average annual value of each contract was equal to 19%~24% of that year's salary cap. Players coming off their rookie contracts (Mahomes, Allen, Murray and Presscott were all 22%~24%).


It is reasonable to assume Burrow would sign for a comparable 22% ~ 24% of the 2023 salary cap. For 2023 the NFL's salary cap is expected to be about $225M or $230M.

  • A new contract with an average annual value of 22% of that 2023 cap would be $49~$51M/year
  • A new contract with an average annual value of 23% of that 2023 cap would be $51~53M/year
  • A new contract with an average annual value of 24% of that 2023 cap would be $53~56M/year


If the speculation is that Burrow will take a "team-friendly" discount to allow the Bengals to re-sign Ja'marr Chase, and keep good talent around him, we could guess that he will sign closer to 22% of the cap than 24% of the cap.

That would put Burrow's annual $ per year at $49M to $51M. For the sake of argument, I'll assume the middle, which is $50M.


Next, what about the length of the contract? Mahomes' contract is for 10 years, Allen's is for 6 years, and the others are 5 or less. Given comments from both the Bengals and Burrow about wanting to stay together for many years, we can assume at least 6 years, but likely more.

Both Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton received 6-year contracts after their rookie deals, so this is clearly the floor for Burrow's contract. The length of the contract will likely be dictated by how much $ they can place in escrow, which covers the guaranteed portion of the contract.

Looking at the contracts I mentioned previously, the average guarantee is 42% (not including Watson's contract). Although, the longer deals (Allen & Mahomes) have less than that. If we assume Burrow signs for a 35%~40% guarantee, and we assume he signs for $50M per year, that means the Bengals would need to have the following amount in escrow:

  • 1-year $18~20M
  • 2-years $35~40M
  • 3-years $53~60M
  • 4-years $70~80M
  • 5-years $88~100M
  • 6-years $105~120M
  • 7-years $123~140M
  • 8-years $140~160M
  • 9-years $158~180M
  • 10-years $175~200M

The general consensus is the Paycor naming deal was for the purpose of acquiring enough money into escrow for the guaranteed portion of the Burrow contract. The financials of the deal have not been disclosed, but looking at similar market size stadium naming deals, we can assume $7~$10M per year. Over 16 years that is $112M to $160M the Bengals can apply to escrow. Paycor's total revenue was $430M, so it's unlikely they spent 1/3 of that to name a stadium. Therefore we can probably be conservative, and assume closer to $7M than $10M+ for the naming rights. If the Bengals received approximately $120M for the rights, that places them in the 7-year range for a contract length.

Applying all of these factors, one reasonable estimate for Joe Burrow's next contract would be:

$350M over 7 years with $125 guaranteed

(This matches 22% of the 2023 cap & a 36% guarantee which likely matches the $ received for the stadium naming rights)

I think this is a reasonable estimate, but one additional factor to consider is the Bengals have a track record of getting a little creative and offering money that is essentially guaranteed without being officially guaranteed. This would allow them to stretch out the Paycor money, and extend the contract length.

Assuming they do this, I would put my personal guess at Burrow's contract at: $400M over 8 years.

I'll still assume the $125M officially guaranteed, but contract language will likely push the total money that is essentially guaranteed quite a bit higher.


For what it's worth... with the NFL's salary cap increasing by an average of 5% over the past 5 years, and quarterbacks signing for 22%~24% of that year's salary cap, we could expect Trevor Lawrence to received about $52M per season when he signs in 2024, and Brock Purdy (possibly?) to reach $55M in 2025.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan, which is as important as the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors.