Joe Burrow, Bengals agree to extension, highest-paid QB in NFL history: sources

By Diana Russini, Paul Dehner Jr. and Larry Holder

The Cincinnati Bengals and Joe Burrow have agreed to a five-year, $275 million contract extension with $219.01 million guaranteed, league sources confirmed Thursday. ESPN first reported the news. Here’s what you need to know:

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Very important in Burrow’s contract

Breaking down the dollars, percentages and guarantees will be important in evaluating the specific successes of this deal. But don’t let structure obscure the bigger picture. The Bengalis had to find a way to do this. They had to plan ahead, make uncomfortable decisions and ultimately spend more money per player than any team in NFL history.

They couldn’t spoil it. They couldn’t let it drag on for another year or so. Burrow said Wednesday that he wants to play his entire career in Cincinnati. Paying him to do so ensures that this unprecedented success for the franchise will continue for the foreseeable future. It was the most important task in a season filled with them and the Bengals got the job done. — Stretcher

Where did the nation of Bengal go?

The Bengals made the biggest guarantee ever in their history, $31 million to tackle Orlando Brown Jr. in March. The previous high was $30 million for Carson Palmer in 2005. Get out of your comfort zone and get $219 million out of your comfort zone. The Bengals have been consistently ripped in the past for failing to guarantee players enough money and not making it past the first year. As a franchise, it changed operationally in many ways (stadium naming rights, Ring of Honor, free agency spending, indoor facility). This Agreement shall become the latest. Burrow represents an exception rather than a new rule, for the most part, but it’s important to show a willingness to do so under the right circumstances. That could certainly be important when negotiations with Jammer Chase begin next year. — Stretcher

How Burrow stacks up

Burrow’s advanced metrics point to him as a top-10 quarterback heading into his fourth season. He was one of the top five players to give his team trips to the Super Bowl and AFC Championship games the past two seasons. But let’s dive into some numbers for Burrow.

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Expected points added per dropback (via TruMedia)

  • 2022: 0.10 (ninth)
  • 2021: 0.15 (sixth)

Proficiency assessment

  • 2022: 100.8 (seventh)
  • 2021: 108.3 (second)

Despite the slight decline in the figures above, here are some advanced metrics that showed Burrow growth:

  • QBR: 58.7 — 2022 (career boost)
  • Pressure Percentage of Dropbacks: 26.6 — 2022 (industry best)
  • Average time to throw: 2.40 seconds — 2022 (fastest career average)

It will be fascinating to watch the development of Burrow, Hurts, Herbert and the Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa as they continue to build their resumes and eventually be considered one of the top quarterback draft classes. — holder


Burrow broke out in his historic 2019 college football season, where he won the Heisman Trophy and led LSU to an undefeated national championship season. Burrow, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, had his rookie season cut short after 10 games with a knee injury. The quarterback quickly became one of the league’s brightest stars, leading the Bengals to Super Bowl LVI in the 2021 season and to the AFC Championship Game last season.

Required reading

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(Photo: Michael Owens/Getty Images)

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