Players selected in the 2020 draft now are eligible for contract extensions, and the Bengals have made clear keeping Burrow for the long-term is a priority.
“It’s not done yet,” Tobin said. “It’s a good problem to have. I have been pretty vocal about what Joe means to us, and my job is to facilitate his success as best I can with putting pieces around him, and his contract will get done when it gets done. But it’s a good problem to have. He’s a vital part of what we’re doing.”
With the market value of quarterbacks reaching new heights over the past few years, it’s expected the Bengals will need to pay a lofty sum of money to keep Burrow around for the long haul. The other part to that is also figuring out how to keep the other important pieces of the roster together and planning for future spending.
Tobin said his job is to try to keep the roster intact as much as possible, but Burrow is the top priority.
“We’re gonna worry about it first, and we’ll see when it gets done,” Tobin said. “You know, we have some ability to control the cap hit for Year 1 with doing some other things, but we’ll see how it goes. Maybe it’s the first piece to come. Maybe it’s the last. We’ll work towards it. I don’t think we’re totally handcuffed with some other things as the process plays out, but obviously sooner is better. But we’re not going to rush the process. We’re going to try to get the right deal for Joe and for the Cincinnati Bengals.”
Bengals coach Zac Taylor said he’s been in communication with Burrow since the offseason began following a loss to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship, but he leaves the contract talk to others. Taylor values Burrow’s opinion on “everything that involves (the) team” because of how important he is to it.
Burrow has been in town for at least portions of the last month, which could be an indication of his own interest in getting a deal done.
“I try to not overdo it (on communication) because he probably gets tired of me over that seven-month period, so you don’t want to overstep that way, but he’s a big part of what we do and we want to make sure we’re always communicating with him,” Taylor said. “He’s a guy who’s around the building a lot, working out there, pops in the office just to catch up and see what’s going on. Again, he’s very valued.”
Burrow could help make things easier for the front office — and other players looking at new contracts — if he is willing to work with the Bengals on the structure of his deal to make it possible to keep more of the pieces around him.
Tobin said Burrow understands that because he sees the big picture of everything on and off the field. The main thing for the Bengals is knowing what the deal might look like so they can move forward with plans for free agency. The rest will take care of itself.
“I think we’ve got an idea of what that deal is going to look like, whether it’s done in completion or not,” Tobin said. “I don’t have predictions on when something might get done. It’s of vital importance to us. It’s important to Joe and we’ll work to try and get it accomplished. Again, there are some things we can control with the first and second year cap numbers and eventually the dollars have to count. And we want to be responsible on how we count those dollars so we don’t get into issues as we go along in the out years. I just can’t predict when it’s going to get done, but we’re aware of the range it’s going to be.”