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Suddenly, one of the most heated rivalries in the NFL is between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills.
The Bengals eliminated the Bills, in Buffalo, in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs on Sunday. During the game, Bengals cornerback Eli Apple let the Buffalo fans know what his team did to them on that field.
Now, Bills GM Brandon Beane is getting in on the action.
The media asked Beane about how Cincinnati built its team. Specifically, they drafted Joe Burrow with the #1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and then snagged Ja’Marr Chase with the #4 pick the following season.
Beane said that Buffalo can’t do what the Bengals did, essentially, because their team is too good.
“They had some lean years,” Beane said, “I don’t want to suck bad enough to have to get Ja’Marr Chase.
“He’s a heck of a talent, I’d love to have him, but you gotta go through some lean years to do that.”
Beane went on to talk about Chase and Burrow’s contracts and how Cincinnati can add better players since neither of their young stars has truly gotten paid yet.
“Those guys are on their rookie deals. We’re paying Stefon Diggs a pretty hefty number; we’re paying Josh Allen a pretty hefty number. So, there is the constraints of the [salary] cap.”
here’s the question and answer for context. pic.twitter.com/eawRG9Wi0t— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) January 24, 2023
Bills GM comments about Bengals petty, but not entirely incorrect
Naturally, many people think Beane is taking a shot at the Bengals. They just beat Buffalo and he’s upset about it. Probably true.
He also appears to be complaining about his team’s situation vs. Cincinnati’s situation.
That being said, Beane is relaying the realities of the NFL. There is nothing more valuable in the league than a top young quarterback on a rookie deal. However, Josh Allen’s cap hit this season is only $16 million. Joe Burrow’s is $10 million.
And the Chiefs, who are in their fifth-straight AFC Championship game have Patrick Mahomes, whose cap hit this season is just under $36 million. That ranks second-highest in the NFL. The highest, believe it or not, is Ryan Tannehill ($38.6 million).
Next year, Mahomes number jumps up to just under $47 million. The Chiefs will have some tough decisions to make in the offseason. As will the Bills, as Allen’s extension kicks in and moves his cap number up to almost $40 million in 2023.
The biggest problem with Beane’s comments is that he acts as though Cincinnati sold out to win a championship right now. That’s not true. According to Pro Football Focus, the Bengals have the fourth-most “effective cap space” in the NFL entering the offseason.
They know they’re going to have to eventually pay both Burrow and Chase and they’re preparing for it.
The Bengals front office deserves credit for building a team for both current and future success.
Though Beane’s comments aren’t as egregious as some are making them out to be — and he was simply answering a question he was asked in the press conference — his timing isn’t great.
It comes across as sour grapes. And with Burrow and Chase set to have reasonable cap hits again next season, expect the Bengals to be in the mix again.
Sorry, Beane and Bills fans, but without some excellent work out of the GM, Buffalo is not on the same level as Cincinnati.
Your move, Brandon.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ