June 17, 2024

Mike Brown knows Bengals have ‘good players’ who need to be nurtured as contract extensions loom

Cincinnati has instrumental pieces on both sides of the ball with wan contracts. Linebacker Logan Wilson is in the final year of his rookie deal, and defensive tackle DJ Reader, who has a team cap number of $15.5 million this season, is also a pending free agent.

Most eyes, however, are on the offense, where a potential extension for quarterback Joe Burrow is a topic of discussion after the team exercised its fifth-year rookie option over the offseason. Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, two-thirds of his three great wide receivers, are entering their final seasons under contract. The other third, Ja’Marr Chase, will be up for a fifth-year option next season as Burrow was months ago, but he will also be eligible for an extension at that time.

The QB is the most important domino of them all, and Brown is choosing to keep things close to that negotiation.

“I bound myself not to talk about Joe (Burrow)’s contract,” he said, according to the team website. “I don’t think it’s helpful for negotiations. The other side has made the same promise and they haven’t broken it.”

Given what Burrow means to the Bengals, it’s possible that the discussions behind closed doors are swirling around the top of the ever-changing quarterback market.

Eagles QB Jalen Hurts set the new bar in April with a five-year deal that paid a record $51 million per year. The Ravens’ Lamar Jackson topped that number by getting a new deal averaging $52 million per year just 10 days later. Burrow’s fellow 2020 first-rounder is also worth considering – Justin Herbert has been in ongoing negotiations for a big extension of his own with the Chargers.

Whenever the Bengals and Burrow find a satisfactory agreement, the contract is sure to see success throughout the rest of Cincinnati’s negotiations, regardless of where it sits in the QB money pecking order.

The club will have tough choices going forward, but so could other players, such as when running back Joe Mixon took a pay cut to remain a Bengal in mid-June.

“We thought if we had a little more space it would help us with other cases,” Brown said of the restructuring. “Joe (Mixon) understood that. He handled himself well. I like Joe. I think he’s a good player. He’s been here and he’s been an important player for a long time and we asked him to step up and help us with our whole situation and he did.”

However when the decisions ahead come out, each one is expected to bring the Bengals one step closer to Brown’s ultimate unachieved goal: bringing a Super Bowl to Cincinnati.

“I’m not looking for accolades,” he said. “I want the team to be awarded. And if I was given a trophy, I’d have it for about two seconds and then I’d give it to (head coach) Zac (Taylor). And then Zac would do whatever he did. I want two seconds. I don’t care about things like that because I want to do it. I’ll know and I’ll remember when it’s done.”

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