Joe Burrow isn't a free agent yet, but the Cincinnati Bengals appear to want nothing to do with that potential outcome. They are already engaging in extension talks with their star quarterback to avoid what is happening with the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson.
The latest news is that the Bengals would prefer to do this sooner rather than later. For obvious reasons (impending free agency), that's a better route to securing talent long-term.
However, it's also good for a couple of other reasons. One NFL insider says they're doing it now so they can afford to make other moves, too.
Per Bleacher Report, Jeremy Fowler indicated that the Bengals' plan is:
"To do this early, just three years into his rookie deal, to try to spread out that salary-cap hit."
The earlier the better for the Bengals, who will have to pay Tee Higgins soon, too. After that, Ja'Marr Chase will be eligible for a new deal. The trio has been instrumental in bringing the Bengals to two AFC Championship games and a Super Bowl appearance.
It will be difficult, especially since Burrow and Higgins were drafted in the same class and Chase was selected just a year later. However, the Bengals are clearly trying to keep Joe Burrow and his two best targets.
They reportedly turned down potential trade offers for Higgins during the NFL Combine, so they have no intention of breaking the core up.
How much could Joe Burrow earn on an extension?
Right now, Aaron Rodgers is the highest-paid NFL quarterback. He makes $50 million a season. Behind him are Russell Wilson ($48.5 million), Kyler Murray ($46.1 million), Deshaun Watson ($46 million), Patrick Mahomes ($45 million), and Josh Allen ($43 million).
Joe Burrow is definitely worth that same amount. Will he ask for that? That remains to be seen as he may prioritize a winning team in Cincinnati over being the highest-paid quarterback.
Nevertheless, the Bengals will likely offer him between $38 and $40 million a season. He's only 26, so a very long extension could be in the works -- perhaps more than six years.