Tue. Mar 31st, 2020

The Hottest NFL News and Information

If Joe Burrow wants to play for the Bengals, why…

4 min read
If Joe Burrow wants to play for the Bengals, why...


Getty Images

At one point last month, quarterback Joe Burrow provided a broad, blanket assessment of his football future: “Whoever wants to pay me money to play the game of football, I’ll play for ’em, it doesn’t matter to me.” Later in the month, however, that changed in subtle yet critical fashion.

After former Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer said publicly that the Bengals aren’t committed to winning Super Bowls and Burrow hired Carson’s younger brother to assist with draft preparation, Burrow said this to Dan Patrick: “You want to go No. 1. But you also want to go to a great organization that is committed to winning. Committed to winning Super Bowls.”

That’s a far cry from “it doesn’t matter to me.” And it’s likely not a coincidence that someone (i.e., Jordan or Carson Palmer) warned him about the Bengals.

The story bubbled up again this week, with Burrow offering a far from enthusiastic “if they select me, they select me” assessment of playing for the Bengals. His mother, Robin, tried to laugh off the notion that Joe doesn’t want to play for the Bengals by saying, “We have no idea where that comes from. It’s a story out there that someone has created that doesn’t have any substance — from our perspective at least.”

But they gave the story substance the moment Joe hired the brother of a former Bengals’ No. 1 overall pick whose experience showed him that the Bengals aren’t committed to winning Super Bowls, and when Burrow then revised his “it doesn’t matter to me” position regarding the team he wants to play for by saying, “[Y]ou also want to go to a great organization that is committed to winning. Committed to winning Super Bowls.”

Meanwhile, Burrow never has said that he wants to play for the Bengals. And that’s all he has to say to make this go away.

Consider the difference between these responses. Here’s option one.

Q: “Joe, do you want to play for the Cincinnati Bengals?”

A: “If they select me, they select me.”

Here’s option two.

Q: “Joe, do you want to play for the Cincinnati Bengals?”

A: “You bet your ass I do!”

Granted, he could be slightly less enthusiastic and still make the point that he wants the Bengals to pick him. Or he at least can say that he wants to be the No. 1 overall pick without the “you also want to go to a great organization that is committed to winning” caveat, which covers him in the event the Dolphins or someone else makes a trade up to the top spot.

Since adjusting his stance from “it doesn’t matter to me” to: (1) I want to be the top pick; and (2) I want the team that picks me to be a great organization that’s committed to winning, the notion that Burrow doesn’t want to go to the Bengals has intensified — especially since the brother of Burrow’s private quarterback coach strongly believes the Bengals aren’t committed to winning.

It’s really not that complicated. But some flat-out refuse to see what’s happening. And what’s happening is that, for now, Burrow is sending signals that he eventually may not want to play for the Bengals. Whether that becomes a full-blown Elway/Eli-style power play remains to be seen.

The fact that Burrow said Monday that he has leverage (few if any draft prospects ever say that) confirms that he’s considering his options. However, if the Bengals take him, his options are simple: (1) sign a four-year, fully-guaranteed contract worth more than $36 million; (2) refuse to sign with the Bengals in the hopes his rights are traded during or after the draft; or (3) sit out the full year and re-enter the draft — with no guarantee that he’d be the first pick again and no guarantee that the Bengals or some other team not committed to winning would refrain from drafting him.

For now, Burrow is opting for subtle in order to keep his options open for as long as possible. Even if he doesn’t want to play for the Bengals, his desire to not pass on being the first pick and getting more than $9 million per year for four years could be stronger.

Regardless, there’s clearly something that’s holding him back from being unequivocal about the Bengals. And it’s not very hard, based on the comments of Carson Palmer and others, to see what it is.

If Joe Burrow wants to play for the Bengals, why hasn’t he simply said so?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *