As Cincinnati Bengals enter free agency, Joe Burrow’s voice becomes more influential – Cincinnati Bengals Blog


CINCINNATI — A few different types of quarterbacks tend to make headlines around NFL free agency.

The former first-round pick looking for a fresh start; a veteran looking to make another Super Bowl push; a placeholder for a team looking for a long-term answer.

The Cincinnati Bengals did not draft Joe Burrow to fill any of those roles. They wanted him to be a franchise quarterback.

That moniker now has a double meaning for Burrow as the Bengals approach free agency. The third-year player fresh off a Super Bowl appearance isn’t just someone the team builds around. When it’s time to assess new players, Burrow’s voice carries a lot of weight.

“He’s a big part of what we do,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said March 1 at the NFL scouting meeting. “It’s definitely a quarterback-oriented league and we want to make sure we’re all lined up there.”

The synergy between Burrow and the franchise was evident during his rookie year in 2020, with the Bengals opting for many empty rosters similar to those Burrow used during his record-breaking senior season at LSU.

Then, with the fifth pick in the 2021 draft, they selected wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, Burrow’s teammate during his two-year run at LSU. Taylor said when the Bengals consulted Burrow about Chase, they were looking for red flags before putting together a pass-catch combination that produced more than 2,000 yards and 23 touchdowns in college.

Burrow said he didn’t tell Cincinnati executive Duke Tobin and the rest of the front office that the team needed to sign Chase. The team simply kept Burrow informed, offering a line of communication, he said, to quarterbacks around league value.

“I don’t need to feel like I made the decision,” Burrow said in February. “You can follow my opinion or leave without my opinion. It doesn’t matter to me as long as I feel like I’m involved in the process, and I think the organization has done a great job of that.

When the Bengals were assessing prospects and Burrow was doing rehabilitation work following a left knee injury that ended his rookie season, Burrow said Tobin asked him to watch some players and asked for the Burrow’s opinion.

During the scouting campaign, Tobin said making sure the opinions of reputable people are valued — including his starting quarterback — has been something he’s done throughout his tenure in as director of player personnel for Cincinnati.

“It seems to be a bit of a topic around the league,” Tobin told ESPN. “It’s not new to me.”

Sometimes Burrow’s input is more tangible. He attended the recruiting dinner at a local steakhouse that helped the Bengals land right tackle Riley Reiff.

Burrow could double as a scout and main attraction as the Bengals enter free agency this week. Cincinnati will be cautious about how much it will budget for the 2022 rookie class and practice squad, but the Bengals, who have $35 million in salary cap space, will have the capital to improve the roster around Burrow. That includes an offensive line that ranked 30th in pass block completion rate, according to ESPN Stats & Information and NFL Next Gen Stats.

“This league is about quarterbacks and when you have one, you have to support them as best you can,” Tobin said at the combine.

Even before Monday’s legal tampering period — which marks the unofficial start of free agency — teams have been scrambling to find quarterbacks they like.

The Denver Broncos traded for Russell Wilson. The Indianapolis Colts sent Carson Wentz to Washington. The Green Bay Packers still have Aaron Rodgers.

In Cincinnati, Burrow made history by reaching the Super Bowl in his second season, the fastest of any quarterback taken at No. 1. Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons, who has been with the franchise since 2003 and witnessed the quarterback runs of Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton, said Burrow instills the most confidence for a string of success. durable.

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Mel Kiper Jr. expresses the importance for the Bengals to recruit several offensive linemen in the next draft.

“Everyone would feel like Joe is the best of them all,” Simmons told the combine. “I think he’s shown it in wins and losses and his ability to keep us – and ultimately make plays – in those tight games.”

Burrow’s on-field command was evident in the Cincinnati playoff run. During the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Tennessee Titans, Burrow’s headset communication broke, leaving him to call his own games until he could get a new one. Taylor later said it was something the team wanted Burrow to do more of as he gained experience.

This level of influence also extends to matters off the field.

“You want his opinion,” Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan told ESPN. “You want him to own it all. You want him to take ownership of the franchise at the end of the day. And I think you still want him to be involved in the process. We want his opinion on everything that’s going on.

That doesn’t mean Burrow will have a say in everything that happens in the offseason. But it’s clear his opinion matters as Cincinnati tries to get back to the Super Bowl.

“If you’re built like him, that’s what you want,” Callahan said. “You want to be able to have your say and your opinions on everything that happens because it’s your team.”


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