Josh Allen (QB)

Josh Allen Open To Bills-Friendly Deal Structure?

The three most recent monster quarterback extensions broke down into two categories. Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson agreed on shorter-term, value-maximizing deals; Patrick Mahomes signed a 10-year extension that reached unprecedented total value but aided the Chiefs in structure. Josh Allen may be willing to take the latter route.

An Allen-Bills deal has hovered on the NFL radar since second-place MVP finisher became extension-eligible in January, and some buzz has emerged indicating Allen might be open to working with the Bills on a friendlier extension structure, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes (video link). This does not mean a discount, Fowler adds, but a contract structure that would help the Bills more than a traditional quarterback contract would.

Of the three quarterbacks who have landed on the extension radar this offseason — Allen, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield — Allen is coming off the best season and may have the most incentive to sign a deal this year. Allen did not start his career as well as Jackson or Mayfield, but he has steadily improved — leading up to a dominant 2020 showing.

In April, it did not sound like the Bills and their franchise QB were close on a deal. But Sean McDermott expressed confidence recently while praising the Wyoming product’s fit in western New York.

Josh and I have spoken,” Bills GM Brandon Beane said in April“We’d love to get Josh extended, but it has to be a number that works for him and us. We’re all on same page. Josh wants to be here. That gives me hope we’ll get something done at some point. Can’t guarantee it’ll be this year.”

Thanks to picking up Allen’s fifth-year option, Buffalo has him signed through 2022. This will allow the Bills to take a slightly firmer stance in negotiations, even as the salary cap is set to rise to nearly $210MM next year. Allen, 25, battled inconsistency in 2018 and ’19 but led the Bills to a 13-3 season and their first AFC championship game in 27 years. The cannon-armed passer agreeing to a Bills-friendly structure would help Beane and McDermott keep the team on this level.

Mahomes’ 10-year, $450MM contract came in the same offseason in which the Chiefs extended Travis Kelce and defensive tackle Chris Jones. The Chiefs have since restructured Mahomes’ deal, dropping his 2021 base salary to $990K, and the through-2031 contract will provide the team more flexibility than the Prescott’s four-year, $160MM extension will give the Cowboys. Allen agreeing to a 10-year extension would be surprising, but he and the Bills finding a structural middle ground would certainly be an interesting development for the quarterback market.

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Bills HC Sean McDermott Discusses Potential Josh Allen Extension

Josh Allen still hasn’t inked his extension with the Bills, but head coach Sean McDermott is making it sound like a deal will get done sooner than later.

“[GM] Brandon [Beane] mentioned that, I think at the end of the spring practice period there, and these things handle themselves,” McDermott said during an appearance on NFL Network (via Nick Shook of NFL.com). “They work themselves out when you got two parties that want to be together and have the same end goal in mind. Josh is a great, young talent and he fits so well with Buffalo and the city and the town and the people of Buffalo. So, I firmly believe it’s gonna work itself out.”

We’ve heard similar sentiments out of Buffalo throughout the offseason…but we’re now in July and a long-term deal still hasn’t been completed. When we last heard from the organization back in May, it sounded like both sides were starting to play some hardball, as Beane made it clear that the extension value “has to be a number that works for [Allen] and us.”

Allen probably doesn’t have a whole lot to gain by waiting to ink a deal. He’s already eyeing a sizable pay day, and unless he can somehow top last season’s performance (second in MVP, AFC Championship appearance), he’ll be facing a similar pay day later on. On the flip side, Allen could decline or suffer an injury, which could cost him money on his next deal.

So, as Shook explains, it’s most likely the organization that’s dragging their feet on a potential extension. While the franchise obviously wants their quarterback to succeed, they could show some patience to see if Allen can put up a similar performance in 2021. After picking up the 25-year-old’s fifth-year option, Allen is locked in through the 2022 campaign, so the organization has plenty of time to hammer out the details.

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AFC Notes: Andrews, Allen, Patriots

We’ve heard a ton in recent weeks about Lamar Jackson‘s upcoming extension with the Ravens. All the back and forth about Jackson’s mom and her role in negotiations has caused a lot of people to forget that Baltimore has other orders of business as well. One of those is Mark Andrews, the young tight end currently set to enter the final year of his rookie deal. One way or the other, Andrews is “far too important to the Ravens offense to let him walk,” Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic opines. “Either via an extension or the franchise tag, Andrews will be a Raven in 2022,” he writes.

Although he might not surpass George Kittle‘s $15MM AAV to become the league’s highest-paid tight end, Zrebiec thinks “he probably won’t be far off.” He writes that Andrews will “likely command more than the” $12.5MM that both Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith got from the Patriots this offseason. The Ravens drafted Andrews 86th overall in 2018, and they got a steal. The Oklahoma product made the Pro Bowl in 2019, when he finished with 852 yards and 10 touchdowns. Last year he was once again Jackson’s favorite target over the middle, finishing with a solid 701 yards in 14 games. Zrebiec says the likeliest bet is Andrews gets an extension, so it sounds like Jackson won’t be the only member of Baltimore’s offense getting paid shortly.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Speaking of extensions, Bills quarterback Josh Allen will need one soon too. Thanks to the fifth-year option Allen, like Jackson, is under contract through the 2022 season. But like with fellow 2018 draft class passer Baker Mayfield, extensions may come sooner rather than later. Vic Carruci of Buffalo News writes that he thinks the Bills and Allen “will work something out before the start of the season.” Carruci seems to think Allen will act “independently” of Mayfield and Jackson, and not wait around to make sure they go first and set the market. On the heels of a superb 2020 campaign, Allen will be looking for top of the quarterback market money, likely around $40MM annually on a new deal.
  • Staying in the AFC East, the Patriots have a new hire. New England is adding Richmond cornerbacks coach Ross Douglas to their staff as a quality control coach, Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports tweets. Douglas was only hired by Richmond in February before the Patriots have now poached him away. Thamel notes that Douglas spent 2020 on Greg Schiano’s staff at Rutgers and Schiano has connections to the Pats and Bill Belichick, so maybe that played a role here. Douglas played college ball at both Michigan and Rutgers between 2013-17.

Bills’ HC “Concerned” About Vaccine Timing

The Bills are back on the field in Orchard Park for voluntary workouts and head coach Sean McDermott says things are about “60% normal” in Orchard Park. With that said, McDermott is still hoping to see more of his players get vaccinated in a timely fashion. 

I’m concerned about it, being very up front,” McDermott said (via the Democrat and Chronicle). “It’s something we’ve talked about and I don’t think the right word is trying to convince (people to get the shot); I think the right word is to educate and build awareness and then let people decide. It’s kind of two-pronged, if you will, with health and safety and then what you’ve got to do to do your job. I think those are the two prongs of the fork right now that must be considered and considered seriously.”

Recently, quarterback Josh Allen indicated that he was still gathering information with regards to the vaccine and weighing his options. Meanwhile, McDermott has to tread lightly on the subject after his GM caused a recent stir.

Yeah, I would [cut players who refuse the vaccine], because [getting vaccinated] would be an advantage,” Brandon Beane said earlier this month. “I think there’s going to be some incentives if you have X -percent of your players and staff vaccinated. You can live normal…let’s just call it, back to the old days. If you don’t, it’s going to look more like last year…I hope that, if those are the rules, we’ll be able to get enough people vaccinated and not have to deal with all the headaches from a year ago.

Soon after, the NFL reached out to Beane to let him know that players cannot be released solely for declining the vaccine. NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith also bashed the Bills GM for his remarks. So, while the NFL is incentivizing players with relaxed protocols, the choice ultimately lies with the players.

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Bills Pick Up Options For Josh Allen, Tremaine Edmunds

No surprise here. The Bills have picked up the fifth-year options on quarterback Josh Allen and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, per a club announcement. 

Allen, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 draft, is now set to make $23.106MM in 2022. Edmunds, the No. 16 choice in the same class, will earn a salary of $12.716MM. The Bills didn’t have to stress over either decision, though negotiating Allen’s next deal may be a bit trickier.

“Josh and I have spoken,” Beane said recently. “We’d love to get Josh extended, but it has to be a number that works for him and us. We’re all on same page. Josh wants to be here. That gives me hope we’ll get something done at some point. Can’t guarantee it’ll be this year.”

Clearly, there’s mutual interest in a longer arrangement, but Allen has serious leverage. His breakout 2020 saw 13 wins for the Bills, transforming him into an MVP candidate. Allen finished the year with a 69.2-percent completion rate, 4,544 yards, 30 touchdowns, and ten interception. And, for good measure, he added another 421 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. Thanks in large part to Allen, the Bills reached the AFC Championship Game, their first appearance since 1993.

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Latest On Extension Talks Between Bills, Josh Allen

It sounds like Josh Allen and the Bills will eventually agree on a long-term pact, but the two sides are starting to play some hardball. Speaking to reporters, general manager Brandon Beane seemed to hint that the two sides weren’t close on a deal.

“Josh and I have spoken,” Beane said (via Chris Brown of the team’s website on Twitter). “We’d love to get Josh extended, but it has to be a number that works for him and us. We’re all on same page. Josh wants to be here. That gives me hope we’ll get something done at some point. Can’t guarantee it’ll be this year.”

That tiny revelation at the end is a bit telling. It was only last month that Beane revealed that the two sides would likely focus on extension talks following the draft, and there seemed to be some optimism that the deal would be completed relatively quickly. Now, it’s sounding like the organization isn’t convinced that a deal will get done any time soon.

Of course, there shouldn’t be any cause for concern. Allen could simply play the 2022 season on his fifth-year option, meaning there’s no urgency to get a deal done before the start of the 2021 season. In fact, Beane has plenty of experience dealing with this contract scenario; the former Panthers executive detailed how his front office was unable to extend Cam Newton following the QB’s third season.

“He played that season and then after that season, we got it done pretty quick that next offseason,” Beane said (via Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News). “We were all on the same page. I guess what I’m saying is, you can’t force it. It happens when it happens. If it happens this year, great. If it doesn’t, I’ll be very positive that we’ll get it done next year.”

Allen had a breakout campaign in 2020, transforming into an MVP candidate and guiding the Bills to 13 wins. He finished the year having completed 69.2-percent of his passes for 4,544 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, and he added another 421 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the grund. He also helped lead the Bills to the AFC Championship Game, the organization’s first appearance in the game since 1993. Considering some of the recent quarterback deals that have been handed out, Allen will certainly be eyeing a lucrative pay day when he inevitably puts pen to paper.

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Bills GM Discusses Potential Josh Allen Extension

Josh Allen is now eligible for an extension, but it doesn’t sound like the Bills are currently prioritizing a long-term pact for the franchise quarterback. During an appearance on The Cris Collinsworth Podcast, general manager Brandon Beane admitted that his team was focused on free agency and the draft.

“Yeah, [Allen] said he was going to give us a nice hometown discount, and hopefully we’ll get him done,” Beane joked (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com). “No, in all seriousness, we’ll talk to Josh and his people later in the spring, get through the draft where we can just focus on that. That’s obviously a big financial commitment that you have to make. That will probably be sometime May through the summer. I don’t know.”

In other words, the Bills are obviously going to explore an extension with their star quarterback, but there are more pressing matters at the moment. We heard similarly earlier this year, when NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Bills would likely approach Allen’s camp about an extension in the spring or summer.

Allen had a breakout campaign in 2020, transforming into an MVP candidate and guiding the Bills to 13 wins. He finished the year having completed 69.2-percent of his passes for 4,544 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, and he added another 421 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. He also helped lead the Bills to the AFC Championship Game, the organization’s first appearance in the game since 1993.

With the 24-year-old passer under team control through 2022 — via the fifth-year option the Bills will exercise by May — the team will have some time to complete this process. Considering some of the recent quarterback deals that have been handed out, Allen will certainly be eyeing a lucrative pay day when he inevitably puts pen to paper.

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AFC East Rumors: Watson, Mariota, Allen

Add veteran NFL reporter Tyler Dunne of GoLongTD.com to the list of writers who have heard that Texans QB Deshaun Watson is not budging on his desire to be traded, and that he continues to ignore every call from Houston brass. Of course, Watson has a no-trade clause that he could use to help dictate where he goes — assuming the Texans give in and deal him, which they have insisted they are not going to do — and we recently heard that the 49ers and Broncos are on his destination list.

Dunne’s source indicates that the Dolphins — who have been considered one of the frontrunners for Watson since trade speculation started to swirl — and the Niners are Watson’s top two preferred clubs. In Dunne’s view, a trade to Miami makes too much sense to not happen, and he believes the ‘Fins and Texans could line up on a deal that sends Watson to South Beach in exchange for the No. 3 and No. 18 overall picks in this year’s draft along with Miami’s 2022 first-rounder.

Now for more rumors from the AFC East:

  • Recent reports have indicated that Raiders QB Marcus Mariota is generating legitimate trade interest, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com believes the Patriots could be in the mix. New England obviously needs a quarterback, and Mariota is attached to a reasonable $10.6MM salary for 2021 and would not cost much to acquire in terms of draft capital. Although he could demand a raise if he is being acquired to serve as a starter, his current salary would not preclude the Pats from continuing to explore other options, like Jimmy Garoppolo — if the the 49ers land a different QB and release Garoppolo — or a collegiate passer.
  • Reiss does not expect the Patriots to make a deal with the division-rival Jets for Gang Green QB Sam Darnold, though what the Jets do with Darnold could certainly have a major impact on New England (for instance, if New York trades Darnold to San Francisco, Garoppolo could become available).
  • The Jets have among the most cap space in the league at just shy of $70MM, and they can easily create even more flexibility, thereby giving them a huge advantage in what could be a buyer’s market given the decreased salary cap. Connor Hughes of The Athletic believes New York will release DE Henry Anderson, which jibes with a report from December. That move will save the club $8.2MM in cap space, and Hughes suggests that guards Greg Van Roten and Alex Lewis might be goners as well (their releases would save $3.4MM and $5.1MM, respectively).
  • Meanwhile the Jets don’t have too many of their own free agents that must be retained. Hughes expects safety Marcus Maye to be re-signed, and he also says OL Pat Elflein — who played well in 2020 after being claimed off waivers from the Vikings — is a logical candidate to return, especially if the team moves on from Van Roten and/or Lewis.
  • Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News does not foresee the Bills laying out major free agent dollars this offseason. Instead, he expects the club to use the majority of its cash on an extension for QB Josh Allen, which means that the Bills will likely allow LB Matt Milano to test the open market — contrary to GM Brandon Beane‘s assertion that a franchise tag could be in play — and will not be in the running for a top pass rusher like Shaquil Barrett or Bud Dupree.

Bills Set To Discuss Josh Allen Extension

With his third regular season complete, Josh Allen is now eligible for what stands to be a monster extension. Despite an uncertain salary cap future, the Bills may be ready to check this key item off their to-do list this year.

The Bills are expected to approach Allen about an extension in the spring or summer, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link). Although a cap reduction is expected to occur for just the second time, Allen sits in prime position to become one of the highest-paid American athletes.

Allen’s 2020 season changed his career trajectory. The Bills saw their quarterback morph from an erratic passer into an MVP candidate, giving the franchise a true cornerstone quarterback for the first time since Jim Kelly‘s retirement. And after Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson finalized extensions last year, a new market emerged for superstar quarterbacks.

Allen has not been as consistent as the two 2017 draftees, but his dominant 2020 season — 45 touchdowns and nearly 5,000 yards accounted for — and value to the Bills will point to a deal that eclipses Watson’s $39MM-per-year contract. That pact serves as the ceiling for traditional NFL accords, with Mahomes’ $45MM-AAV deal remaining an outlier due to its 10-year length. As far as traditional QB contracts go, Watson is the only player earning more than $35MM annually.

With the 24-year-old passer under team control through 2022 — via the fifth-year option the Bills will exercise by May — the team will have some time to complete this process. But finalizing an extension in 2021 would stand to save the franchise some money, given where the quarterback market could be headed as the NFL’s long-term cap growth becomes a clearer reality.

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Jets Notes: Darnold, 2017 Draft, Gase, Maye

Some rare good news for the Jets. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that quarterback Sam Darnold‘s precautionary MRI of his right shoulder only showed a “reaggravation.” The 23-year-old will attempt to work through the injury and won’t be sidelined.

Darnold initially suffered the shoulder injury during the Jets’ Week 4 loss to the Broncos, and that forced Joe Flacco into the lineup for Week 5. Darnold returned under center for the past two games, but he’s only completed 56.6-percent of his passes for 253 yards and two interceptions. Prior to the injury, Darnold completed 59.42-percent of his passes for 792 yards, three scores, and four interceptions.

Darnold has missed eight games through his three NFL seasons. If he’s forced to miss more time, the team could either turn to Flacco, third-stringer James Morgan, or practice squad signal-caller Mike White.

Some more notes out of the Big Apple:

  • Prior to the Jets loss to the Chiefs yesterday, ESPN’s Rich Cimini gave the “inside story” of why the organization passed on future MVP and champion Patrick Mahomes during the 2017 draft. There were a variety of reasons that went into the decision: the Jets had already invested in Josh McCown as their bridge quarterback, there was still some optimism that Christian Hackenberg could work out, former GM Mike Maccagnan already had his eye on the 2018 quarterbacks class (including Darnold), and the organization was much more infatuated with their eventual pick, safety Jamal Adams. Still, prior to the draft, Mahomes thought he could end up in New York. “I definitely thought there was interest there,” Mahomes said. “Whenever you go on those visits, you know they’re pretty interested in doing their due diligence. I definitely thought there was interest there.”
  • While we’ve heard a similar sentiment throughout the past few weeks, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY reiterates that the Jets aren’t expected to fire head coach Adam Gase midseason. “They really don’t want to do it,” a source told Vacchiano. “They may have to, at some point. But they know a midseason coaching change doesn’t change their situation. I think they’re going to hold off as long as they can.” Vacchiano provided a variety of reasons why it makes sense for the Jets to hold on to Gase, including the fact that the head coach serves as a “lightning rod” while distracting from general manager Joe Douglas‘ shaky first season with the organization.
  • Safety Marcus Maye‘s rookie contract is set to come to an end, and Cimini believes he could be eyeing a contract that will pay him around $7MM per season. As a result, Cimini reports that rival teams believe the 27-year-old could be had as part of the team’s fire sale. The reporter had a similar sentiment about Bradley McDougald, although the impending free agent safety has since landed on IR.
  • In the same article, Cimini passes along an anecdote from 2018, when the Jets “boxed” out the QB-needy Bills by moving from No. 6 to No. 3 in a deal with the Colts. The move allowed the Jets to select Darnold, who was Buffalo’s top-rated QB. In fact, the Bills were so displeased with the deal, they refused to negotiate with Indy for the remainder of the draft. Buffalo ended up trading up from No. 11 to No. 7, and they proceeded to select Josh Allen.