Burrow makes it official, signs contract extension

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Joe Burrow wore a shirt with the “740″ area code on it when the Cincinnati Bengals drafted him No. 1 overall in 2020, and on the day, the fourth-year quarterback officially signed his contract extension, he intentionally wore an Athens High football shirt from the 2011 playoffs to represent his hometown again.

On Saturday, Burrow put pen to paper on a five-year, $275 million extension both sides had agreed to Thursday, and the Bengals locked up their franchise quarterback through 2029. Burrow already was set to stay in Cincinnati through 2024, thanks to a fifth-year option on his rookie deal.

“I wanted to make sure I wore this shirt ‘cause this is kind of where it all started,” Burrow said in a press conference Saturday right after signing and just hours before the team was scheduled to depart for its season opener Sunday at Cleveland.

Burrow doesn’t know how he’s going to spend the money on his NFL-record contract but insists it will “do a lot of good” for him and others. He already has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through the Joe Burrow Hunger Relief Fund, which launched after his Heisman speech in 2019, to help make a difference in food insecurity across Southeast Ohio and earlier this year he officially established his Joe Burrow Foundation with a mission “to provide resources and support to the underprivileged and underserved.”

As far as his first purchase, Burrow joked he can probably buy whatever he wants now so “whatever catches” his eye. He doesn’t plan to let the contract change him, just like he hasn’t let his success to this point get to his head – still “just a kid from Athens, Ohio.”

Burrow said he didn’t really do much celebrating when the deal was agreed upon Thursday.

“You take a deep breath, celebrate for about five minutes, and then you continue about your weekly process,” Burrow said. “You know, it’s game week so you gotta get ready to play.”

Burrow said getting the contract done before the start of the season was important to him, but he had faith throughout the process the organization would make that happen. He said he remained involved in negotiations in part to make sure he had input on being able to build the team around him, too.

The Bengals signed Logan Wilson to a four-year extension last month, added a year to Trey Hendrickson’s deal in July and re-worked Joe Mixon’s contract to keep him on a more cap-friendly deal. It’s not yet clear what will happen with the various other players on expiring deals.

Burrow wouldn’t go into specifics about what he cared about most in his negotiations but felt like it worked out well for everyone.

“We got what we wanted; they got what they wanted,” Burrow said. “I’m gonna be here for a long time. That’s the most important thing.”

Burrow was appreciative of the investment the organization made in him, dating back to the draft.

“I work really hard to perform well on the field and think a lot about how I handle myself, and you know, how I can be the best me for this organization, and so to be rewarded for that, it means a lot to me, but we have a lot more to do,” Burrow said.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor said he knew just watching Burrow on TV in college that he was different from most quarterbacks he had evaluated over the years, but his conversations throughout the pre-draft process verified why that is.

Cincinnati believed Burrow would be a player that could turn around the franchise and that proved to be the case not only in how he performed in his first full season in 2021 when he helped the Bengals to the Super Bowl but also in how he helped change the culture of the locker room. Burrow didn’t do it all himself but played a key role in others wanting to join him in Cincinnati.

“We want him here forever,” Taylor added.

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