Jalen Hurts Massive Contract Complicates Matters For Joe Burrow, Bengals

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Jalen Hurts, a former second-round pick, is now the highest-paid player in NFL history. He’s started at quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles for two seasons. In one of those seasons, he posted elite numbers. So, what does that mean for the Cincinnati Bengals and former #1 overall pick Joe Burrow, who has lived up to every bit of his lofty expectations?

It’s complicated.

According to NFL.com, Hurts’ contract is a five-year, $255 million contract extension with $179.3 million in total guarantees. Only Deshaun Watson received more guaranteed money ($230M) and only Patrick Mahomes signed for more total money (10 years, $450M).

Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles warms up against the Kansas City Chiefs after Super Bowl LVII.
Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles warms up against the Kansas City Chiefs after Super Bowl LVII. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

But Hurts makes the most on an annual basis in the history of the league at $51M per season.

That’s a starting point for negotiations between Cincinnati and Joe Burrow, but he’s going to want more. A LOT more.

Joe Burrow put the Cincinnati Bengals in new territory, in more ways than one

That’s a tough spot for the Bengals, a notoriously cheap organization. For years, Cincinnati collected talented players with checkered pasts just to save a few dollars.

But now they’re going to have to pay Burrow. They certainly can’t and won’t let him walk. But what do the numbers look like?

He’s almost certainly going to want more guaranteed money than Watson. And he deserves that.

He’s going to want more per year money than Hurts. And he deserves that.

But does Burrow take an extremely long-term deal like Mahomes with a big cash number and a lower per-year value?

That’s where the Cincinnati organization comes into play. Are they willing to shell out $500M over 10 years for one player?

Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals stretches as he warms up prior to the AFC Championship NFL football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Bengals QB Joe Burrow. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

The other team in Cincinnati, the Reds, are still paying Ken Griffey Jr.’s $112.5M deal signed back in 2009. They also gave Joey Votto a 10-year, $225M deal in 2014.

The Reds haven’t won a playoff series since 1995.

Obviously, these are very different situations. But it’s relevant in that the Reds are considered a “small-market” franchise. And they gave out over $200M to one player. Are the Bengals willing to double that? Or more?

And then what about the $100+ million that Ja’Marr Chase is going to command? How about Tee Higgins? Could Cincinnati shell out over $700M to three players over the next decade?

The good and bad of drafting extremely talented football players

The Bengals have come a long way from not winning a playoff game between 1991 and 2020. They reached the Super Bowl in 2021 and the AFC Championship in 2022.

That’s mostly thanks to their Pro Bowl quarterback.

There’s a debate about where Joe Burrow ranks among the game’s elites. Is he better than Patrick Mahomes? Josh Allen?

Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs meet on the field after the AFC Championship Game.
Burrow and Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

But almost unanimously, Burrow can be found in the Top 3. Despite being sacked 124 times in his regular season career, Burrow already has over 11,500 yards passing and 82 touchdowns in just 2.5 regular seasons.

Plus, he’s 5-2 as a starter in the playoffs.

Jalen Hurts went 14-1 last season. He finished second in MVP voting and led the team to a Super Bowl appearance. But are we ready to crown him among the game’s elite?

No, not yet. But he’s the highest paid player in NFL history.

So what does that mean for Joe Burrow? Turns out, it’s not that complicated.

It means Joe Burrow is going to get PAID.

Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @RealDanZak

Written by Dan Zaksheske

Dan began his sports media career at ESPN, where he survived for nearly a decade. Once the Stockholm Syndrome cleared, he made his way to Outkick. He is secure enough in his masculinity to admit he is a cat-enthusiast with three cats, one of which is named “Brady” because his wife wishes she were married to Tom instead of him.


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