Cincinnati Bengals president Mike Brown says the team’s focus is on extending QB Joe Burrow’s contract

CINCINNATI – Bengals boss Mike Brown knows massive contract negotiations and a potential paycheck for quarterback Joe Burrow loom.

During the team’s annual media lunch on Monday, Brown said he doesn’t know how that will happen once Burrow is eligible for the extension. But Brown is confident how he feels about the midfielder.

“I can tell you we couldn’t be happier with Joe Borough,” Brown said. “He’s everything you could wish for, especially for the Cincinnati quarterback. Our whole focus will be on keeping him here.”

Burrow, the 2020 all-around pick, overcame a major left knee injury he sustained during the junior season to lead the Bengals to their first Super Bowl appearance in 33 years.

He completed 70% of his passes for 4,611 yards, 34 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Burrow is currently entering the third year of his junior contract which averages $9.9 million a year, according to List Management System. Seven quarterback players currently earn more than $40 million annually. These players averaged $141.9 million in guaranteed money.

“It’s crazy the number these guys are offering, and I think he’s well deserved,” Borough said in June when asked about recent deals awarded to Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Cleveland’s Deshaun Watson. “All of these guys are playing top of their game. And they get paid accordingly. But really, I haven’t thought about it much at the moment.”

The team will have the ability to extend Burrow’s start-up deal by a year due to his status as a former first-round entrant. However, Burrow and the rest of the league’s 2020 draft class will be eligible for an extension beyond this year.

“It’s a mystery,” Brown said. “Everything doesn’t quite fit. We will have some positives. We will sign some players who are very important to the team. We will lose some players.”

The safety of Bengals Jesse Bates is one of those at risk of leaving. For the second year in a row, Bates and the team failed to agree on a long-term extension. Zack Taylor, the coach, said Bates earned the franchise mark in March, but he has not yet signed his bid, and his preparation for training camp remains uncertain.

Burrow’s contract won’t be the only major contract that will be up for discussion before 2023. The Tee Higgins wide receiver will also be eligible for an extension. Wide future Ja’Marr Chase, winner of this year’s NFL Offensive Award, could start his contract talks in 2024.

Brown and Cincinnati’s front office knows they will need to account for Higgins, Chase and others in team-friendly deals for now.

But there is no discussion of the team’s primary long-term business goal.

“For now, our obvious and most important issue will be with our midfielder,” Brown said. “It’s not quite ready or mature yet, but it’s right below the track. We see the train coming.”

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