The Cincinnati Bengals are reportedly making progress with Joe Burrow’s monster extension that will not only keep the quarterback in a Bengals uniform for the next few seasons but could make him the highest-paid player in the history of the NFL.
Right behind Burrow on the list of Bengals priorities is wide receiver Tee Higgins. Earlier in the week, salary-cap expert Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus predicted Higgins’ extension would be a four-year deal worth $97 million with $32.25 million guaranteed.
Now Spielberger has made his prediction on linebacker Logan Wilson’s pending extension. He believes Wilson’s extension would be for three years and $34.5 million with $14 million guaranteed, which would give him an annual salary of $11.5 million.
“Wilson’s 3.2 percent missed tackle rate in 2022 was the fourth lowest among 104 linebackers with at least 25 total tackles, and his 27 defensive stops against the pass were tied for the sixth most at the position,” Spielberger wrote. “His 73.6 coverage grade was a career high and is a more impressive mark when accounting for what is asked of him as a coverage player.”
Earlier this offseason, the Bengals re-signed their other linebacker Germaine Pratt to a three-year, $20.25 million contract with $7 million guaranteed. Spielberger doesn’t believe Pratt’s deal should affect their ability to extend Wilson or any of the other defensive free agents heading into their contract years. He does, however, believe the Bengals will have to “negotiate cautiously.”
“While we don’t think Pratt’s deal should be a barrier here, Cincinnati nonetheless has a ton of players to take care of in the near future, and not just the obvious names on offense,” he said. “Interior defender D.J. Reader is also entering a contract year and is an integral part of this Bengals’ defensive front. They appear motivated to get early deals done with a lot of these players, but odds are they’ll approach each negotiation cautiously.”
Wilson was drafted out of Wyoming with the team’s third-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Over his first three years in the league, he has 256 tackles, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and seven interceptions, including the interception that sealed their victory over the Tennessee Titans in the 2021 divisional round game, advancing them to the AFC Championship where they would defeat the Chiefs and go to Super Bowl LVI.
Wilson has been a solid addition to the Bengals defense over the last three seasons. He started every game over the last two seasons, with an overall defensive grade from PFF of 74.6 throughout the 2022 season, which ranks 16th in the league of linebackers with over 500 snaps. Pratt’s score of 78.4 ranked 11th, making the Bengals only one of three teams with two top-16 linebackers in the league. The other two teams are the San Francisco 49ers (Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw) and the Buffalo Bills (Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano).
The AFC is absolutely loaded with powerful offenses and star quarterbacks. The Bengals not only have to deal with Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, and Kenny Pickett twice a year, but they also have to contend with Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Aaron Rodgers, Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa, Trevor Lawrence, and whichever version of Russell Wilson shows up in 2023. Keeping the defense intact is necessary for the Bengals to make multiple Super Bowl runs over the next several years.