Things didn’t go according to plan for the Bengals in Week 1, but the team accomplished its most important offseason goal not long before the campaign started by inking Joe Burrow to a record-breaking extension. Further details have emerged regarding the investment made in the team’s franchise quarterback.
Burrow’s five-year, $275MM extension gives him the title of the NFL’s highest-paid player in terms of annual compensation (one which has changed hands four times in 2023). The pact is notable not only with respect to its $55MM AAV and the $219.01MM in total guarantees, but also the up front commitment made by the Bengals in a move which bucks the organization’s norms regarding major contracts.
Per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Burrow will see roster and training camp bonuses totaling just over $44.5MM in 2023, along with a league minimum base salary. In 2024, he will receive a combined total of $65.7MM between salary and an option bonus; that total sits at $35.25MM for 2025. All of the 26-year-old’s compensation over the next three years is fully guaranteed at signing.
That makes Burrow’s pact a much more lucrative one in terms of early cash flow ($146.5MM across 2023-25) compared to Justin Herbert‘s Chargers extension, as noted by Over the Cap’s Jason Fitzgerald. It also marks a break from tradition in terms of standard practice for the Bengals, who have typically avoided including injury guarantees beyond Year 1 of an extension. Making an exception to that rule was always going to be necessary given the market for QBs on their second contracts, but this structure is certainly noteworthy.
Burrow’s pact – which runs through 2029 – also includes rolling guarantees which cover much of his compensation in 2026 and ’27. Incentives for victories in the AFC title game and Super Bowl are also present through the final five years of the pact, meaning he will be well-positioned for years to come provided he can remain healthy and play at the level he has demonstrated in previous campaigns (which differs greatly from his performance during his first game after signing the mega-pact).
Questions will be raised about how many core contributors the Bengals can retain with Burrow now on the books at a massive raise. Wideout Tee Higgins is among the players who seems destined to at least test the open market before potentially departing in free agency, but the team has cost certainty with its most important player for the foreseeable future.