Joe Burrow

AFC North Notes: Browns, Burrow, Ravens

The Browns have not honored David Njoku‘s trade request. The former first-round pick enters his fourth season in Cleveland, and while Kevin Stefanski said he had not spoken with Njoku in several weeks, the first-year Browns coach noted he is eager to work with him.

My stance hasn’t changed. The organization’s stance hasn’t changed in that we believe in David, excited to work with him,” Stefanski said, via cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot. “I’ll get to finally be in the same room as him this weekend as he is coming in for physicals and then get out on the field with him Monday.”

Njoku has not lived up to his Round 1 billing yet, leading the Browns to give Austin Hooper a tight end-record contract. While Njoku’s unhappiness was reported to predate the team’s Hooper addition, he tweeted that he “loves Cleveland” while noting the game includes “a lot of complications.” Regardless, Njoku is set to earn $1.76MM this season. The Browns picked up his fifth-year option (worth $6MM) but can cut bait on that cost before the 2021 league year.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Despite the COVID-19 pandemic preventing teams from conducting on-field workouts throughout the offseason, the Browns have not changed their plan at tackle. First-round pick Jedrick Wills will begin his career as Cleveland’s starting left tackle, Stefanski adds. The Alabama product will make the interesting transition from college right tackle to NFL left tackle. Recently signed free agent Jack Conklin, a college left tackle, will continue his NFL right tackle work.
  • The Browns hired former Vikings QBs coach Kevin Rogers as a senior offensive assistant. Rogers was with the Vikings from 2006-10, which doubled as Stefanski’s first five years with the franchise, but has not coached since 2016. Rogers, 68, spent decades at the college level. He worked as the offensive coordinator for Syracuse (1991-98), Notre Dame (1999-2001) and Boston College (2011). His most recent gig was at alma mater William & Mary; that four-year stay ended after the 2016 season.
  • The Ravens will use Jimmy Smith in a matchup-based capacity. They are trying their longtime starting cornerback at safety and in the slot, John Harbaugh said. As of now, there is no plan to permanently move the veteran corner to safety. The Ravens are deep at cornerback, with Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey and slot man Tavon Young back in the fold. Young, however, has missed two of the past three full seasons. Harbaugh said the fifth-year corner is back to 100% after a neck injury last summer.
  • Ravens rookie UDFA tight end Jacob Breeland will miss the 2020 season, Harbaugh confirmed. The Oregon product was one of the top contenders for Baltimore’s No. 3 tight end spot, per The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec (subscription required).
  • As expected, Joe Burrow‘s rookie year will consist of on-the-job training. The Bengals will not give one of their more experienced QBs the first snaps as their starter in training camp. Burrow will take them, Zac Taylor said, per Marisa Contipelli of Bengals.com (on Twitter). Cincinnati returns 2019 draftee Ryan Finley and agreed to terms with fifth-year quarterback Brandon Allen, who worked with Taylor in Los Angeles.

Bengals, Joe Burrow Agree To Deal

At long last, the Bengals have reached agreement with No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow on his rookie deal (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). Per the terms of his slot, the LSU quarterback will receive $36.1MM over the course of four years, including a $23.88MM signing bonus. 

Like the league’s other 31 clubs, the Bengals were skittish about forking over millions of dollars in the midst of economic uncertainty. Ultimately, Burrow got the payout structure he wanted – he’ll get 100% of his signing bonus within 15 days of the contract being executed, per Schefter. The deal will be formally signed later this week, after Burrow takes his physical.

Burrow joined Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield as consecutive Heisman winners to be drafted No. 1 overall. The Bengals’ Burrow infatuation was the league’s worst-kept secret. After a 2-14 finish to the 2019 season, they’re hoping that Burrow will help right the ship and put them in contention in the not-too-distant future.

An Ohio native, Burrow posted arguably the greatest quarterback season in the history of college football in 2019, completing 76.3% of his passes for 60 touchdowns. That TD total is an NCAA record, and he did it while throwing only six picks. Fresh off of a National Championship, the LSU star is now weeks away from his pro debut.

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No. 1 Pick Joe Burrow Has Yet To Sign Bengals Deal

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has yet to put pen to paper on his rookie contract. In an interview on the Pardon My Take podcast, the No. 1 overall pick indicated that the deal might not be inked anytime soon.

[RELATED: Panthers Sign Derrick Brown]

We’re just waiting to see what happens over the next three months because we really don’t know,” Burrow said (via ESPN.com’s Ben Baby).

Most of this year’s 250+ rookies have yet to sign their deals, so Burrow’s situation is not unique. However, it could be indicative of a much larger issue. Some executives and agents have wondered whether it’ll take longer for top draft picks to sign this year, since teams are facing potentially enormous revenue losses.

Those league officials believe that the deals will be completed, eventually, but cash flow could be a concern for clubs. A season without fans would mean zero gate attendance revenue, a shortened season would mean significantly less dollars coming in, and a cancelled season would be disastrous, from a financial standpoint. With that in mind, teams may be looking to hold on to the allocated signing bonus money a little bit longer.

In the case of Burrow, the LSU product is due a ~$24MM bonus. After that, the bonus figures decrease pick-by-pick, in accordance with each player’s slot. New Redskins edge rusher Chase Young (No. 2 overall) is set to collect a $22.7MM bonus and Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah (N0. 3) is in line for $21.9MM. The figure decreases the further you move down the board, though every player from Nos. 1-11 is ticketed for an eight-figure lump sum bonus.

Meanwhile, like all of us, Burrow is eager for football – and life in general – to resume normalcy:

Instead of talking, we can get back on the field. Hopefully soon.”

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Bengals Won’t Look To Sign Veteran QB

The Bengals aren’t looking to sign another veteran quarterback to play behind No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow, head coach Zac Taylor says. “We’re set,” Taylor said. (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Ben Baby). 

After the draft, the Bengals parted ways with longtime starter Andy Dalton after months of fruitless attempts to trade him. For months, Dalton said that he was focused on playing as a QB1 in 2020. He eased up on that stance this spring, but it’s not clear whether he was willing to take enough of a pay cut in Cincinnati to make that work, or whether the Bengals even made him a realistic offer. Ultimately, Dalton found a vibrant market for his services once he was let go – the Patriots, Jaguars, and Jets all considered the veteran before he joined up with the Cowboys (while he backstops Dak Prescott, Dalton says he’ll be aiming to start in 2021).

For now, the Bengals have Ryan Finley and 2019 UDFA Jacob Dolegala as the backups behind Burrow. Finley, a fourth-round pick last year, posted a dismal 47.1% completion rate with an average of 5.4 yards per attempt in three starts. After that, the Bengals turned things back over to Dalton, who at least got to leave Cincinnati as a first-stringer in his final game.

Burrow – who completed 76.3% of his passes for an NCAA-record 60 touchdowns last year with only six interceptions – will be expected to carry the load in his first pro season.

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Chargers Liked Tua Tagovailoa At No. 6

With the No. 6 pick in the NFL Draft, the Chargers found their new quarterback in Oregon product Justin Herbert. But, even if wasn’t there, GM Tom Telesco says he would have taken a QB, no matter what. 

We felt great about all three quarterbacks who went in the Top 6,” Telesco told Pat McAfee of Barstool Sports (Twitter link), referring to No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow and Dolphins choice Tua Tagovailoa. “Hopefully we won’t pick at No. 6 very often…if I do, I won’t be making very many picks hereIf you’re going to pick this high and there’s a potential franchise quarterback, you have to take him.”

Burrow to the Bengals was long considered a sure thing and Tagovailoa was connected to the Dolphins for months. As the draft drew closer, whispers of the Dolphins’ interest in Herbert grew louder and louder. And, days before the draft, there was talk of the Dolphins trading up to the No. 3 pick to select an offensive lineman, rather than a quarterback. That’s one rumor that Telesco didn’t bite on.

Every rumor I heard, I went through my head of, ‘How would we handle this if this happened?’,” Telesco told Pat McAfee. “Now, the whole, Miami taking a tackle at 3, maybe they really were, I just didn’t believe that one. You make plans, you talk with your head coach…you talk about trading up or down in certain situations. When you’re on the clock making the pick, you’re not discussing what you want to do, you’ve already decided.

The opinions on Herbert are pretty mixed in the football world. Those that are high on him believe that his elite arm strength will allow him to succeed as a starter. Others are concerned about his pension for holding on to the ball for too long in the pocket. At the same time, Tagovailoa’s health remains a major question mark moving forward and Telesco says he would have been happy with either QB as the heir to Philip Rivers.

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Bengals Select Joe Burrow With No. 1 Overall Pick

The wait is officially over. With the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft, the Bengals have selected LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.

Burrow, who joins Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield as consecutive Heisman winners to be drafted first overall, has long been the favorite to go to Cincinnati at the top of the draft. The Bengals, who earned the No. 1 pick after finishing 2-14 during the 2019 campaign, will now install what they hope is a franchise quarterback in Burrow.

An Ohio native, Burrow posted arguably the greatest quarterback season in the history of college football in 2019, completing 76.3% of his passes for 60 touchdowns (an NCAA record) against only six interceptions. Burrow, who transferred from Ohio State prior to the 2018 season, put up middling results during his first season as LSU’s starter before winning the National Championship in 2019.

While the Bengals had long maintained that they weren’t interested in moving off the No. 1 pick, the Dolphins certainly attempted to make things interesting. Miami pushed Cincinnati, and was still trying to move up earlier today despite the Bengals previously rejecting offers.

Now, Burrow joins a Cincinnati offense that boasts potential despite the club’s lackluster performance in 2019. Burrow will dropped into a unit that includes running back Joe Mixon and wide receivers A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, and John Ross. Second-year head coach Zac Taylor and general manager Duke Tobin could attempt to find even more offensive talent — perhaps at wideout or along the offensive line — on Day 2 or 3 of the draft.

Despite that firepower, the Bengals are still in the midst of a rebuild even after adding Burrow. Cincinnati did step outside its comfort zone in free agency earlier this year, however, spending ample money to add defensive tackle D.J. Reader, cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander, safety Vonn Bell, and linebacker Josh Bynes.

Andy Dalton, the Bengals’ starting quarterback since 2011, remains on the roster. He’s still a candidate to be traded or released, but the veteran recently said there is a “scenario” where he sticks around as Burrow’s backup. Dalton has a $17MM cap figure, however, meaning he’d likely need to accept a pay cut in order for that to be feasible.

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Bengals Have Sent Jerseys To Joe Burrow

Just in case it couldn’t get any more official, the Bengals are going to be taking LSU quarterback Joe Burrow first overall. Moments after we heard for the final time that they wouldn’t be trading the pick, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweeted that Cincinnati owner Mike Brown has sent jerseys to the Burrow family.

They’re #9 Bengals jerseys, and Schefter adds that will officially be the number he wears in the NFL. Burrow donned the same number in college. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner will be tasked with turning around the 2-14 Bengals, and commissioner Roger Goodell will be announcing his name just over an hour from now.

The Dolphins apparently tried hard to get the Bengals to trade the pick, but their attempts at a Godfather offer ultimately proved futile. The draft is of course happening remotely and Burrow unfortunately won’t be able to celebrate in person, but at least the family will be able to rock some Bengals/Burrow gear in their living room.

Dolphins Still Pushing For Bengals’ No. 1 Pick

The Dolphins are hoping to acquire the Lions’ No. 3 choice and package it with their own No. 5 for the Bengals’ first overall pick, Mike Florio of PFT hears. The Lions have told the Dolphins that they won’t give up the No. 3 pick without the No. 5 pick in the package, but Miami GM Chris Grier seems to think they can be swayed. 

Of course, even if Grier can swing that deal with Detroit, he still has to convince the Bengals to part with the No. 1 pick and pass on Joe Burrow. The Bengals say that’s not happening. So far, the Bengals have laughed off every offer, but it’s hard to imagine them hanging up on a team offering two Top-5 picks. At minimum, it’s something that they’d have to consider.

Burrow, by all accounts, is the Bengals’ favorite QB by a mile. But, with Nos. 3 and 5, they could tap their second-favorite passer and one of this year’s elite tackles. Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert would likely be available for them with the third pick. Then, they’d probably have at least three of this year’s top four tackles, if not the whole bunch, available to them. Tua/Herbert + Jedrick Wills/Tristan Wirfs/Andrew Thomas/Mekhi Becton would be a pretty excellent haul by any measure.

It remains to be seen what else Miami would have to give up in order to convince Cincinnati to forego the right to draft Burrow, and one wonders if the team’s No. 18 or No. 26 selections — at least one of which would presumably have to go to Detroit in this scenario — would also be in play. For a rebuilding outfit that has a lot of needs to fill and that has spent a long time stockpiling premium draft capital, that would be an exceedingly steep price to pay.

On the other hand, franchise QBs don’t grow on trees, and not only does Burrow have limitless potential, he has fewer red flags than Tua and Herbert. Though he may have benefited from LSU’s stacked roster in 2019, his otherworldly Heisman-winning campaign, which featured a 76.3% completion rate, 5,671 passing yards, and 60 passing TDs, make Burrow a tantalizing prospect.

If a team knew that a player would turn out to be Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, etc., that team would have no issues trading away its entire draft haul in a given year to draft such a player, regardless of how rich that haul might be. And while no prospect is really a sure thing, if the Dolphins are convinced that Burrow is a future Hall-of-Famer — and they seem pretty sure — then it would be hard to fault them for swinging this kind of deal (at least not until a couple years have passed).

Miami hasn’t been able to make any progress on talks yet, but deadlines spur action, and the NFL Draft is just hours away.

Rory Parks contributed to this post.

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Bengals Reject Dolphins’ Offer For No. 1 Pick

The Dolphins have called the Bengals on multiple occasions to inquire on the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The Bengals told the Dolphins “in no uncertain terms” that they would not give up the top choice. 

No surprises on either end here. The Bengals have been laser-focused on tapping Joe Burrow as their quarterback of the future and the Dolphins probably see him as the best passer in this year’s class as well. The Dolphins’ love affair with the LSU star has been a poorly-kept secret throughout the year and they’ve been pondering a move up to No. 1 since January.

The Bengals, meanwhile, have been hitting the b-button on teams asking about the pick. Unless they’re playing really, really, really hard to get, Burrow to the Bengals is a done deal.

Unable to climb to No. 1, the Dolphins may move up to No. 3 via trade with the Lions. Initially, they tried to make the move without sacrificing their No. 5 pick, but that doesn’t seem to be on the table.

After a strong 2018 season, Burrow shattered all expectations with a 76.3% completion rate, 5,671 passing yards, and 60 (!) touchdowns through the air. He also added another five rushing TDs for good measure.

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Bengals Still Won’t Consider Trading No. 1 Pick

The Bengals got a few calls from teams looking to move up, but they’re not even going through the motions. One Bengals source told Dianna Russini of ESPN.com (on Twitter) that they “could just turn our ringers off on our phones” when it comes to trades for the No. 1 pick. 

It’s no surprise. The Bengals are locked in on LSU star Joe Burrow as their quarterback of the future. They’ve been burning up bandwidth and using as much of their allotted time as possible to get familiar with him, go over the playbook, and strategize for their future together.

Other teams near the top of the order are at least giving thought to trading down. Giants GM Dave Gettleman could very well move the No. 4 pick, even though it’s not in his nature. The Lions are also willing to listen on offers for the No. 3 pick, though they’re high on cornerback Jeff Okudah, defensive tackle Derrick Brown, and Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons. Okudah is very unlikely to be available past No. 10 and there’s no telling where Brown or Simmons could land. The Redskins, supposedly, are willing to listen on offers for the No. 2 pick, but they’re probably still keyed in on Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young.

Nothing is certain in this year’s NFL Draft, but Burrow-to-the-Bengals seems like a done deal.

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