Joe Burrow is expected to become the highest-paid player in football, but he also wants to leave money on the table for Cincinnati’s star receivers. How can he do that?
The Cincinnati Bengals were three points away from potential back-to-back Super Bowl appearances last season. Joe Burrow once again showed why he’s one of the best quarterbacks in football at the ripe age of 26, and naturally, the Bengals want to keep him around long-term.
Burrow and the team are still hammering out the details of a contract that could make him the highest-paid player in football, according to ESPN’s Ben Baby. But Burrow has more than himself in mind.
The Cincinnati superstar wants his teammates — namely Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase, his star wideouts — to get paid also.
Joe Burrow wants Bengals to be able to pay him and his wide receivers
Speaking to ESPN, Burrow said the following: “Whenever you have guys on the team that need to be paid, that’s always on your mind. You want that to be a focal point. We’re working to make that happen.” That’s the kind of selfless leadership that can mean the difference between winning the Super Bowl and being the highest-paid player on a mediocre team.
Of course, Burrow is unlikely to sacrifice too much, if any, of his own financial haul. The primary goal is to work the cap in such a way that both Higgins (eligible for an extension this summer) and Chase (eligible for an extension next summer) can get their bags too.
An excellent example is the recent contract signed by Lamar Jackson with the Ravens. Both are superstar contemporaries at the same position, both are expected to rank near the top of the NFL in salary for the foreseeable future.
Jackson signed a five-year, $260 million contract. That’s a big number. His cap hit for year one? Roughly $22 million. How is that possible? Because the Ravens got creative, structuring Jackson’s deal in such a way that his contract balloons in size as the years progress without sacrificing guaranteed dollars.
The Ravens gave Jackson a $7.5 million base salary with a $14.5 million signing bonus (plus a few other incentives) for the 2023 season. His base salary increases to $14.25 million in year two, with the same $14.5 million signing bonus tacked on. His base salary ups to $20.25 million in year three, and eventually reaches $51.25 million in year five (with that nice signing bonus tacked on every year).
Expect Burrow to pursue a similar structure with the Bengals, allowing the team to keep his cap hit lower while Higgins and Chase get signed before it grows to massive proportions four or five years down the line. That $260 million (or more) ballpark is the right money range for Burrow; it’s simply a matter of how the Bengals structure the money to maintain flexibility to re-up other key players.