Bengals sign Burrow to record 5-year, $275M extension

Deal makes Cincinnati QB the highest paid player in the league

Joe Burrow said Wednesday in his first press conference of the 2023 regular season that he wasn’t worried about the timing of his contract extension getting done, but he likely knew it was close. It didn’t take much longer.

The Cincinnati Bengals signed their franchise quarterback to a five-year, $275 million deal ($219 million guaranteed), Thursday, making him the highest paid player in the game and extending what they believe will be a window to win championships for as long as he’s playing for them.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter was the first to report the contract.

Although there was hope the contract would be done before training camp, Bengals fans can rest easy now that it’s complete just three days before the opener at Cleveland. Burrow’s contract tops Justin Herbert’s deal, which was previously the record after the L.A. Chargers gave him a five-year, $262.5 million contract extension in July.

“You definitely realize it’s a business,” Burrow said Wednesday about lessons learned through the negotiation process. “But at the end of the day, we’re playing football professionally. I’m with great people and some of my best friends in there. Like I said, it’s the icing on the cake.”

Burrow has re-written the Bengals’ record books over the past two seasons while leading the team to back-to-back AFC North division titles and consecutive AFC Championship game appearances, and the Bengals are rewarding him. He holds the team’s single-season records for pass attempts with 606 in 2022, completions (414 in 2022), passing yards (4,611 in 2021), touchdown passes (35 in 2022) and passer rating (108.3 in 2021).

The 24-year-old quarterback has been viewed as the savior of a franchise that has never won a Lombardi Trophy. He nearly did it in Year 2 as a leader that carried Cincinnati from five straight losing seasons to a Super Bowl in one complete NFL season.

The Bengals made the former Heisman Trophy winner the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2020 after he helped LSU to the national championship in 2019 and following a rough rookie season that ended in a torn ACL in his 10th game, Burrow enjoyed an NFL Comeback Player of the Year campaign in 2021 while leading his team to an AFC Championship and to within one big play of the Super Bowl title.

“I think he plays the position in a unique manner, and to be able to watch him play on time and throw with the timing and anticipation he does is pretty unique,” Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said. “And those are always my favorite (things about him) from the time he got here till now, and he’s only gotten better. ... I just like to see him play football. It’s fun.”

Bengals coach Zac Taylor said earlier this week he looks forward to more “winning” with Burrow.

The Bengals are coming off a second straight AFC title game appearance with hopes of completing the ultimate goal in 2023. Now that the contract is done, that can remain the focus.

Bengals owner and president Mike Brown had said last summer that Burrow’s contract would be the biggest priority for the team until it was done, and there was little doubt the front office would find a way to make it happen.

Burrow was guaranteed to remain in Cincinnati at least through the 2024 season anyway because the Bengals exercised his fifth-year option in April, but his calf injury on Day 2 of training camp brought to forefront the reminder the risks of playing without a long-term deal. The security he now has likely puts him at ease, and Burrow will be happy to stay in Cincinnati long term.

“This is where I want to be,” Burrow said Wednesday. “This is where I want to be my whole career. We’re working toward making that happen. You’ve seen what the front office has done and what Zac (Taylor) has done in their time here. I’m a small part of that. I’m excited to be a part of that. And we have great people in the locker room that grind every day, that are excited to go and showcase their talents and excited to go and do it in the city of Cincinnati. We have the best fans and so this is where I want to be.”

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