Burrow on contract extension: ‘That’s the last thing I’m thinking about. I’m worried about beating the Browns.’

Fourth-year quarterback expects to play in Sunday’s season-opener vs. Cleveland

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

CINCINNATI — Burrow said he’s not thinking about a deadline for getting his contract extension done because he’s confident that will come in due time. His only focus is beating the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

The fourth-year quarterback spoke to media Wednesday for the first time since his July 27 right calf strain and said he expects to play Sunday in the season opener at Cleveland. Getting up to speed after missing five weeks of practice and being ready to go Week 1 is the only deadline he’s set.

“That’s the last thing I’m thinking about (the contract),” Burrow said. “I’m worried about beating the Browns right now.”

Just before training camp started, the L.A. Chargers gave fellow 2020 draft pick Justin Herbert a five-year, $262.5 million contract extension that makes him the top-paid quarterback in the year based on average annual salary. Burrow’s deal is expected to top that, but the Bengals also are trying to make sure there is money for other players.

Burrow’s agent, Brian Ayrault, secured a deal Wednesday for San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, which will make him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history. Comments made by a calm Burrow just prior to that news breaking seem to indicate maybe his deal is close too.

“That’s gonna come,” Burrow said when asked why he’s not worried about it. “I’m gonna keep playing well. I feel great about the organization and everybody in the locker room and in the coaching staff, and so, you know, that’s the icing on the cake to me. I’m just excited to be out here.”

Burrow returned to practice last week in limited fashion but was a full participant Wednesday for what is believed to be the first time. The Bengals did not have to issue an injury report until Wednesday afternoon, and the only player on the 53-man roster that was not full-go was Joseph Ossai, who did not participate because of a high ankle sprain suffered in the preseason finale.

The Bengals haven’t officially declared Burrow will play Sunday in the opener at Cleveland, yet he appears on track to do so. Bengals coach Zac Taylor has said he looks good but “it’s wise to take it day to day right now.”

Asked if he had any thoughts about not playing because of the risk of injury while still negotiating a new contract, Burrow indicated that wasn’t a consideration. He did think about the risk involved, though.

“Those are all the things that you think about, right?” Burrow said. “But I feel like I’m in the position that I’m in is because I love playing football. I work really hard to put myself in a really good position to go out and be successful. And that’s just what I enjoy doing. I wouldn’t be myself if I wasn’t able to do that. I’m not going to let the business side of things take that away from me.”

Burrow, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2020, said he wants to be in Cincinnati long term and that’s the end goal with his contract negotiations.

“This is where I want to be my whole career,” Burrow said. “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.”

The long-term is why the Bengals aren’t declaring Burrow ready to go Sunday. While it’s likely he will play, Burrow said the next two days will be important for determining his availability. The training staff is still monitoring him, and he said it could be something he has to treat throughout the season because of the nature of soft tissue injuries and their tendency to linger.

Burrow has dealt with various injuries over his three-year NFL career, including an ACL tear in his left knee as a rookie. He came back in 2021 to lead the Bengals to the Super Bowl, but during that run, he dislocated his pinky finger and played on a banged up right knee, among other things. Last year was his first healthy season, but even that started off slowly because of an appendectomy that sidelined him the first day of training camp and caused him to miss significant time.

The day before his calf strain he had commented on how he was looking forward to a full training camp for the first time. He missed all but two days of it.

“It was frustrating,” Burrow said. “I would say this year it was different. I was able to maintain lifting through the whole process, so I’m in great shape. As good a shape as I’ve been in heading into Week 1. Much different than last year when I was just trying to get back to full strength and full health. I feel much better going into Week 1 this year.”

“You’re never gonna be where you would have been had you got those four weeks of reps,” Burrow said when asked what he missed out on the most. “But you know, I feel great about where I’m at mentally and physically. I feel great about how I’ve prepared to be in the situation I’m in now, and I feel good about the week of prep that I put in so far. And like I said, we’ll see how these next two days play out. But I feel good about going into Sunday.”


Bengals at Browns, 1 p.m., CBS, 1290,1530, 95.7, 102.7, 104.7

About the Author