Negotiations between the Cincinnati Bengals and quarterback Joe Burrow on a long-term extension are underway, and Burrow said he's actively taking part in the process, even if he's keeping hush on some of the details of that effort.
"I'm involved. That's in the works," Burrow told reporters on Tuesday. "That's not really something that I like to play out in the media. Just the way I think they want to do business, I want to do business, we prefer to keep that between us."
Burrow is entering the final year of his original rookie contract, although the Bengals previously picked up his fifth-year option, which is guaranteed for injury for the 2024 NFL season, as well. Typically, this would be the natural time for quarterbacks to sign massive extensions -- following their third year, sometime prior to the start of the season.
Following the recent contracts signed by the Ravens' Lamar Jackson and the Eagles' Jalen Hurts, the Bengals and Burrow now have some more comps they can look at to determine what's fair market value for a top-tier QB. The second contracts signed by Josh Allen and Dak Prescott in 2021 and by Deshaun Watson and Kyler Murray in 2022 also can provide context.
Burrow said he's not talked to Allen in particular about his contract situation.
"No, I haven't really talked to (Allen) about it," Burrow said. "I'm pretty clear on what I want in the contract and what I think is best for myself and the team. So we're on the road to making that happen."
Burrow, who finished fourth in the MVP voting last year, believes his 2022 season was his best. The Bengals weren't able to make it back to the Super Bowl, however, losing to the Chiefs on a last-second field goal in the AFC Championship Game in January.
"I think I had my best year last year," he said. "I think I've improved every year, and [there's] still a lot of room to grow. There's always room to improve every offseason, every game, every week. You just try to find a way to get better every year."
When asked specifically how he's improved, Burrow pointed to his situational awareness.
"I think I just became more aware of situational football," Burrow said, "aware of when I can take a sack, when I can't, finding the back, when maybe I can make a play in a certain moment when a different part of the game I would not try to make that play. I think I took strides there, and I think there are more strides to take in that area."
The assumption is that the Bengals would be crazy not to extend Burrow, and it feels like a virtual certainty to happen. But there's a tradeoff, as Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase and other Bengals players are due to hit free agency over the next few years. Signing Burrow to a big-money deal might mean that Cincinnati could need to let another star walk.
Burrow said he's aware of the team dynamic under the salary cap and has considered that while seeking his own windfall.
"Whenever you have guys on the team that need to be paid, that's always on your mind," Burrow said. "You want that to be a focal point, so we're working to make that happen."
A deal could happen soon, but the devil will be in the details -- how long the contract is and for how much money. That could tell us a lot about how long the Bengals can remain one of the NFL's elite teams, as they appear to be right now.